This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of
each file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before
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MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v2
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
Philippe I., Duc d'Orleans
Philippe II., Duc d'Orleans, Regent of France
The Affairs of the Regency
The Duchesse d'Orleans, Consort of the Regent
The Dauphine, Princess of Bavaria.
Adelaide of Savoy, the Second Dauphine
The First Dauphin
The Duke of Burgundy, the Second Dauphin
PHILIPPE I., DUC D'ORLEANS.
Cardinal Mazarin perceiving that the King had less readiness than his
brother, was apprehensive lest the latter should become too learned; he
therefore enjoined the preceptor to let him play, and not to suffer him
to apply to his studies.
"What can you be thinking of, M. la Mothe le Vayer," said the Cardinal;
"would you try to make the King's brother a clever man? If he should be
more wise than his brother, he would not be qualified for implicit
Never were two brothers more totally different in their appearance than
the King and Monsieur. The King was tall, with light hair; his mien was
good and his deportment manly. Monsieur, without having a vulgar air,
was very small; his hair and eye-brows were quite black, his eyes were
dark, his face long and narrow, his nose large, his mouth small, and his
teeth very bad; he was fond of play, of holding drawing-rooms, of eating,
dancing and dress; in short, of all that women are fond of. The King
loved the chase, music and the theatre; my husband rather affected large
parties and masquerades: his brother was a man of great gallantry, and I
do not believe my husband was ever in love during his life. He danced
well, but in a feminine manner; he could not dance like a man because his
shoes were too high-heeled. Excepting when he was with the army, he
would never get on horseback. The soldiers used to say that he was more
afraid of being sun-burnt and of the blackness of the powder than of the
musket-balls; and it was very true. He was very fond of building.
Before he had the Palais Royal completed, and particularly the grand
apartment, the place was, in my opinion, perfectly horrible, although in
the Queen-mother's time it had been very much admired. He was so fond of
the ringing of bells that he used to go to Paris on All Souls' Day for
the purpose of hearing the bells, which are rung during the whole of the
vigils on that day he liked no other music, and was often laughed at for
it by his friends. He would join in the joke, and confess that a peal of
bells delighted him beyond all expression. He liked Paris better than
any other place, because his secretary was there, and he lived under less
restraint than at Versailles. He wrote so badly that he was often
puzzled to read his own letters, and would bring them to me to decipher
"Here, Madame," he used to say, laughing, "you are accustomed to my
writing; be so good as to read me this, for I really cannot tell what I
have been writing." We have often laughed at it.
He was of a good disposition enough, and if he had not yielded so
entirely to the bad advice of his favourites, he would have been the best
master in the world. I loved him, although he had caused me a great deal
of pain; but during the last three years of his life that was totally
altered. I had brought him to laugh at his own weakness, and even to
take jokes without caring for them. From the period that I had been
calumniated and accused, he would suffer no one again to annoy me; he had
the most perfect confidence in me, and took my part so decidedly, that
his favourites dared not practise against me. But before that I had
suffered terribly. I was just about to be happy, when Providence thought
fit to deprive me of my poor husband. For thirty years I had been
labouring to gain him to myself, and, just as my design seemed to be
accomplished, he died. He had been so much importuned upon the subject
of my affection for him that he begged me for Heaven's sake not to love
him any longer, because it was so troublesome. I never suffered him to
go alone anywhere without his express orders.
The King often complained that he had not been allowed to converse
sufficiently with people in his youth; but taciturnity was a part of his
character, for Monsieur, who was brought up with him, conversed with
everybody. The King often laughed, and said that Monsieur's chattering
had put him out of conceit with talking. We used to joke Monsieur upon
his once asking questions of a person who came to see him.
"I suppose, Monsieur," said he, "you come from the army?"
"No, Monsieur," replied the visitor, "I have never joined it."
"You arrive here, then, from your country house?"
"Monsieur, I have no country house."
"In that case, I imagine you are living at Paris with your family?"
"Monsieur, I am not married."
Everybody present at this burst into a laugh, and Monsieur in some
confusion had nothing more to say. It is true that Monsieur was more
generally liked at Paris than the King, on account of his affability.
When the King, however, wished to make himself agreeable to any person,
his manners were the most engaging possible, and he won people's hearts
much more readily than my husband; for the latter, as well as my son, was
too generally civil. He did not distinguish people sufficiently, and
behaved very well only to those who were attached to the Chevalier de
Lorraine * and his favourites.
Monsieur was not of a temper to feel any sorrow very deeply. He loved
his children too well even to reprove them when they deserved it; and if
he had occasion to make complaints of them, he used to come to me with
"But, Monsieur," I have said, "they are your children as well as mine,
why do you not correct them?"
He replied, "I do not know how to scold, and besides they would not care
for me if I did; they fear no one but you."
By always threatening the children with me, he kept them in constant fear
of me. He estranged them from me as much as possible, but he left me to
exercise more authority over my elder daughter and over the Queen of
Sicily than over my son; he could not, however, prevent my occasionally
telling them what I thought. My daughter never gave me any cause to
complain of her. Monsieur was always jealous of the children, and was
afraid they would love me better than him: it was for this reason that he
made them believe I disapproved of almost all they did. I generally
pretended not to see this contrivance.
Without being really fond of any woman, Monsieur used to amuse himself
all day in the company of old and young ladies to please the King: in
order not to be out of the Court fashion, he even pretended to be
amorous; but he could not keep up a deception so contrary to his natural
inclination. Madame de Fiennes said to him one day, "You are in much
more danger from the ladies you visit, than they are from you." It was
even said that Madame de Monaco had attempted to give him some violent
proofs of her affection. He pretended to be in love with Madame de
Grancey; but if she had had no other lover than Monsieur she might have
preserved her reputation. Nothing culpable ever passed between them; and
he always endeavoured to avoid being alone with her. She herself said
that whenever they happened to be alone he was in the greatest terror,
and pretended to have the toothache or the headache. They told a story
of the lady asking him to touch her, and that he put on his gloves before
doing so. I have often heard him rallied about this anecdote, and have
often laughed at it.
Madame de Grancey was one of the most foolish women in the world. She
was very handsome at the time of my arrival in France, and her figure was
as good as her face; besides, she was not so much disregarded by others
as by my husband; for, before the Chevalier de Lorraine became her lover,
she had had a child. I knew well that nothing had passed between
Monsieur and Grancey, and I was never jealous of them; but I could not
endure that she should derive a profit from my household, and that no
person could purchase an employment in it without paying a douceur to
her. I was also often indignant at her insolence to me, and at her
frequently embroiling me with Monsieur. It was for these reasons, and
not from jealousy, as was fancied by those who knew nothing about it,
that I sometimes sharply reprimanded her. The Chevalier de Lorraine,
upon his return from Rome, became her declared lover. It was through his
contrivances, and those of D'Effiat, that she was brought into the house
of Monsieur, who really cared nothing about her. Her continued
solicitations and the behaviour of the Chevalier de Lorraine had so much
disgusted Monsieur, that if he had lived he would have got rid of them
He had become tired of the Chevalier de Lorraine because he had found out
that his attachment to him proceeded from interested motives. When
Monsieur, misled by his favourites, did something which was neither just
nor expedient, I used to say to him, "Out of complaisance to the
Chevalier de Lorraine, you put your good sense into your pocket, and
button it up so tight that it cannot be seen."
After my husband's death I saw Grancey only once; I met her in the
garden. When she ceased to be handsome, she fell into utter despair;
and so great a change took place in her appearance that no one would have
known her. Her nose, before so beautiful, grew long and large, and was
covered with pimples, over each of which she put a patch; this had a very
singular effect; the red and white paint, too, did not adhere to her
face. Her eyes were hollow and sunken, and the alteration which this had
caused in her face cannot be imagined. In Spain they, lock up all the
ladies at night, even to the septuagenary femmes de chambre. When
Grancey followed our Queen to Spain as dame d'atour, she was locked up in
the evening, and was in great grief about it.
When she was dying, she cried, "Ah, mon Dieu, must I die, who have never
once thought of death?"
She had never done anything but sit at play with her lovers until five or
six o'clock in the morning, feast, and smoke tobacco, and follow
uncontrolled her natural inclinations.
When she reached her climacteric, she said, in despair, "Alas, I am
growing old, I shall have no more children."
This was exceedingly amusing; and her friends, as well as her enemies,
laughed at it. She once had a high dispute with Madame de Bouillon. One
evening, Grancey chose to hide herself in one of the recesses formed by
the windows in the chamber of the former lady, who, not thinking she was
heard, conversed very freely with the Marquise d'Allure, respecting the
libertine life of Grancey; in the course of which she said several
strange things respecting the treatment which her lovers had experienced
from her. Grancey at length rushed out, and fell to abusing Madame de
Bouillon like a Billingsgate. The latter was not silent, and some
exceedingly elegant discourse passed between them. Madame de Bouillon
made a complaint against Grancey; in the first place, for having listened
to her conversation; and in the second, for having insulted her in her
own house. Monsieur reproved Grancey; told her that she had brought this
inconvenience upon herself by her own indiscretion, and ordered her to be
reconciled with her adversary.
"How can I," said Grancey, "be reconciled to Madame de Bouillon, after
all the wicked things she has said about me?" But after a moment's
reflection she added, "Yes, I can, for she did not say I was ugly."
They afterwards embraced, and made it up.
Monsieur was taken ill at ten o'clock at night, but he did not die until
the next day at noon. I can never think of this night without horror.
I remained with him from ten at night until five the next morning, when
he lost all consciousness.--[The Duc d'Orleans died of apoplexy on the
9th June, 1701]
The Electors of Germany would not permit Monsieur to write to them in the
same style as the King did.
PHILIPPE II., DUC D' ORLEANS, REGENT OF FRANCE.
From the age of fourteen to that of fifteen years, my son was not ugly;
but after that time he became very much sun-burnt in Italy and Spain.
Now, however, he is too ruddy; he is fat, but not tall, and yet he does
not seem disagreeable to me. The weakness of his eyes causes him
sometimes to squint. When he dances or is on horseback he looks very
well, but he walks horridly ill. In his childhood he was so delicate
that he could not even kneel without falling, through weakness; by
degrees, however, his strength improved. He loads his stomach too much
at table; he has a notion that it is good to make only one meal; instead
of dinner, he takes only one cup of chocolate, so that by supper he is
extremely hungry and thirsty. In answer to whatever objections are made
to this regimen, he says he cannot do business after eating. When he
gets tipsy, it is not with strong potations, but with Champagne or Tokay.
He is not very fond of the chase. The weakness of his sight arose from
an accident which befell him at the age of four years, and which was
something like an apoplexy. He sees well enough near, and can read the
smallest writing; but at the distance of half the room he cannot
distinguish persons without a glass. He had an application of a powder
to that eye which is worst, and, although it had caused intolerable pain
to every other person who had used it, it seemed to have no effect upon
him, for he laughed and chatted as usual. He found some benefit from
this; but W. Gendron was too severe for him. That physician forbade the
petits-soupers and the amusements which usually followed them; this was
not agreeable to my son, and those who used to frequent them to their own
advantage; they therefore persuaded him to adopt some other remedies
which almost deprived him of sight. For the last forty years (1719),
that is to say since the accident happened, the month of October has
never elapsed without his health and eyesight being affected towards the
21st in some way or other.
He was only seventeen years old when he was married. If he had not been
threatened with imprisonment in the old castle of Villers-Cotterets, and
if hopes had not been given him of seeing the Duchesse de Bourbon as he
wished, they could not have induced him to form this accursed marriage.
It is my son's unlucky destiny to have for a wife a woman who is desirous
of ruling everything with her brothers. It is commonly said, that where
one sins there one suffers; and thus it has happened to my son with
respect to his wife and his brothers-in-law. If he had not inflicted
upon me the deepest vexation by uniting himself with this low race, he
might now speak to them boldly. I never quarrelled with my son; but he
was angry with me about this marriage, which he had contracted against my
As I sincerely love him, I have forgotten it; and I do not believe that
we shall ever quarrel in future. When I have anything to say about his
conduct, I say it openly, and there is an end of it. He behaves to me
very respectfully. I did all in my power to prevent his marriage; but
since it did take place, and with his consent, though without mine, I
wish now only for his tranquillity. His wife fancies that she has done
him an honour in marrying him, because he is only the son of the brother
of a king, while she is the daughter of a king; but she will not perceive
that she is also the daughter of a -----. He was obliged to put down all
his feelings of nobility; and if I had a hundred crowns for as many times
as he has since repented it, I could almost buy France for the King, and
pay his debts. My son visits his wife every day, and when she is in good
humour he stays with her a long time; but when she is ill-tempered,
which, unfortunately, happens too often, he goes away without saying
anything. I have every reason to be satisfied with him; he lives on very
good terms with me, and I have no right to complain of his conduct; but I
see that he does not repose much confidence in me, and I know many
persons to whom he is more communicative.
I love my son with all my heart; but I cannot see how any one else can,
for his manners are little calculated to inspire love. In the first
place, he is incapable of the passion, or of being attached to any one
for a long time; in the second, he is not sufficiently polished and
gallant to make love, but sets about it rudely and coarsely; in the
third, he is very indiscreet, and tells plainly all that he has done.
I have said to him a hundred times, "I wonder how any woman can run after
you, whom they ought rather to fly from."
He would reply, laughing, "Ah! you do not know the libertine women of the
present day; provided they are talked of, they are satisfied."
There was an affair of gallantry, but a perfectly honourable one, between
him and the Queen of Spain. I do not know whether he had the good
fortune to be agreeable to her, but I know he was not at all in love with
her. He thought her mien and figure good, but neither her manners nor
her face were agreeable to him.
He was not in any degree romantic, and, not knowing how to conduct
himself in this affair, he said to the Duc de Grammont, "You understand
the manner of Spanish gallantry; pray tell me a little what I ought to
say and do."
He could not, however, suit the fancy of the Queen, who was for pure
gallantry; those who were less delicate he was better suited for, and for
this reason it was said that libertine women used to run after him.
He never denied that he was indiscreet and inconstant. Being one day
with me at the theatre, and hearing Valere say he was tired of his
mistress, "That has been my case often," he cried. I told him he never
was in love in his life, and that what he called love was mere
He replied, "It is very true that I am not a hero of romance, and that I
do not make love like a Celadon, but I love in my way."
"Your way," I said, "is an extremely gross one." . . . This made him
He likes the business of his gallantry to be conducted with beat of drum,
without the least refinement. He reminds me of the old Patriarchs, who
were surrounded by women.
All women do not please him alike. He does not like fine airs so well as
profligate manners: the opera-house dancers are his favourites. The
women run after him from mere interest, for he pays them well. A
pleasant enough adventure happened last winter:
A young and pretty woman visited my son in his cabinet; he presented her
with a diamond of the value of 2,000 Louis and a box worth 200. This
woman had a jealous husband, but she had effrontery enough to shew him
the jewels which she said had been offered to her a great bargain by
persons who wanted the money, and she begged him not to let such an
opportunity slip. The credulous husband gave her the money she asked
for. She thanked him, put the box in her dressing-case and the diamond
on her finger, and displayed it in the best company.
When she was asked where she got the ring and the bog, "M. de Parabere
gave them to me," she said; and he, who happened to be present, added,
"Yes, I gave them to her; can one do less when one has for a wife a lady
of quality who loves none but her husband?"
This caused some mirth; for other people were not so simple as the
husband, and knew very well where the presents came from. If my son has
a queen-sultana, it is this Madame de Parabere. Her mother, Madame de la
Vieuville, was dame d'atour to the Duchesse de Berri.--[Marie-Madeline de
la Vieuville, Comtesse de la Parabere; it was she whom the Regent used to
call "his little black crow."]--It was there that my son first became
acquainted with the daughter, who is now a widow: she is of a slight
figure, dark complexion, and never paints; her eyes and mouth are pretty;
she is not very sensible, but is a desirable little person. My son says
he likes her because she thinks of nothing but amusing herself, and never
interferes with other affairs. That would be very well if she were not a
drunkard, and if she did not make my son eat and drink so much, and take
him to a farm which she has at Anieres, and where he sometimes sups with
her and the country folks. It is said that he becomes a little jealous
of Parabere, in which case he must love her more than he has done yet.
I often tell him that, if he really loved, he would not suffer his
mistresses to run after others, and to commit such frequent infidelities.
He replied that there was no such thing as love except in romances. He
broke with Seri, because, as he said, she wanted him to love her like an
Arcadian. He has often made me laugh at his complaining of this
seriously, and with an air of great affliction.
"Why do you disturb yourself?" I have said to him; "if that is not
agreeable to you, leave her alone. You are not obliged to feign a love
which you do not feel."
This convinces me, however, that my son is incapable of love. He
willingly eats, drinks, sings, and amuses himself with his mistresses,
but to love one of them more than another is not his way. He is not
afraid of application; but when he has been actively engaged from morning
till night he is glad to divert himself at supper with such persons. It
is for this reason that Parabere, who is said to be a great fool, is so
agreeable to him. She eats and drinks astonishingly, and plays absurd
tricks, which divert him and make him forget his labour.
My son, it must be allowed, possesses some great qualities. He has good
sense, understands several languages, is fond of reading, speaks well,
has studied much, is learned and acquainted with most of the arts,
however difficult. He is a musician, and does not compose badly; he
paints well, he understands chemistry, is well versed in history, and is
quick of comprehension. He soon, however, gets tired of everything. He
has an excellent memory, is expert in war, and fears nothing in the
world; his intentions are always just and fair, and if his actions are
ever otherwise, it is the fault of others. His only faults are that he
is too kind, not sufficiently reserved, and apt to believe people who
have less sense than himself; he is, therefore, often deceived, for the
knaves who know his easiness of temper will run all risks with him. All
the misfortunes and inconveniences which befall him spring from that
cause. His other fault is one not common to Frenchmen, the easiness with
which women can persuade him, and this often brings him into domestic
quarrels. He can refuse them nothing, and even carries his complaisance
so far as to give them marks of affection without really liking them.
When I tell him that he is too good, he says, "Is it not better to be
good than bad?"
He was always extremely weak, too, with respect to lovers, who chose to
make him their confidant.
The Duc de Saint Simon was one day exceedingly annoyed at this weakness
of my son, and said to him, angrily, "Ah! there you are; since the days
of Louis le Debonnaire there has been nobody so debonnaire as yourself."
My son was much amused at it.
When he is under the necessity of saying anything harsh, he is much more
pained at it than the person who experiences the disgrace.
He is not fond of the country, but prefers living in town. He is in this
respect like Madame de Longueville, who was tired to death of being in
Normandy, where her husband was.
[The Duc de Longueville was Governor of Normandy; and after the
reduction of Bordeaux, in 1652, the Duchesse de Longueville received
an order from the Court to repair to her husband.]
Those who were about her said, "Mon Dieu, Madame, you are eaten up with
ennui; will you not take some amusement? There are dogs and a beautiful
forest; will you hunt?"
"No," she replied, "I don't like hunting."
"Will you work?"
"No, I don't like work."
"Will you take a walk, or play at some game?"
"No, I like neither the one nor the other."
"What will you do, then?" they asked.
"What can I do?" she said; "I hate innocent pleasures."
My son understands music well, as all the musicians agree. He has
composed two or three operas, which are pretty. La Fare, his Captain of
the guards, wrote the words. He had them played in his palace, but never
would permit them to be represented on the public stage.
When he had nothing to do he painted for one of the Duchess's cabinets
all the pastoral romance of "Daphnis and Chloe."
[The designs for the romance of "Daphnis and Chloe" were composed by
the Regent, with the advice, and probably the assistance, of Claude
Audran, a distinguished painter, whom Lebrun often employed to help
him with his large pictures. He painted a part of the battles of
Alexander. These designs were engraved by Benoit Audran; they
embellish what is called "the Regent's edition" of the Pastoral of
Longus, which was printed under his inspection in the year 1718. It
is somewhat surprising that Madame should speak so disdainfully of
so eminent an artist as Benoit Audran.]
With the exception of the first, he invented and painted all the
subjects. They have been engraved by one Audran. The Duchess thought
them so pretty that she had them worked in a larger size in tapestry; and
these, I think, are better than the engravings.
My son's learning has not the least tinge of pedantry. He knows a
quantity of facetious stories, which he learnt in Italy and in Spain.
He does not tell them badly, but I like him better in his more serious
moods, because they are more natural to him. When he talks upon learned
topics it is easy to see that they are rather troublesome to him than
otherwise. I often blamed him for this; but he used to reply that it was
not his fault, that he was ready enough to learn anything, but that when
he once knew it he no longer took pleasure in it.
He is eloquent enough, and when he chooses he can talk with dignity. He
has a Jesuit for his confessor, but he does not suffer himself to be
ruled by him. He pretends that his daughter has no influence over him.
He was delighted when he obtained the command of the Spanish army, and
was pleased with everything in that country; this procured him the hatred
of the Princesse des Ursins, who feared that my son would diminish her
authority and gain more of the confidence of the Spaniards than she
He learned to cook during his stay with the army in Spain.
I cannot tell where he learned so much patience; I am sure it was neither
from Monsieur nor from me.
When he acted from himself I always found him reasonable; but he too
often confided in rogues, who had not half his sense, and then all went
My son is like all the rest of his family; when they had become
accustomed to a thing they suffered it to go its own way. It was for
this reason he could not persuade himself to shake off the Abbe Dubois,
although he knew him to be a rascal. This Abbe had the impudence to try
to persuade even me that the marriage he had brought about was an
"But the honour which is lost in it," said I, "how will you repair that?"
Old Maintenon had made immense promises to him, as well as to my son;
but, thank God, she kept neither the one nor the other.
It is intolerable that my son will go about day and night with that
wicked and impertinent Noce I hate that Noce as I hate the devil. He and
Brogue run all risks, because they are thus enabled to sponge upon my
son. It is said that Noce is jealous of Parabere, who has fallen in love
with some one else. This proves that my son is not jealous. The person
with whom she has fallen in love has long been a sort of adventurer: it
is Clermont, a captain in my son's Swiss Guard; the same who preferred
Chouin to the great Princesse de Conti. It is said that Noce utters
whatever comes into his head, and about any persons; this makes my son
laugh, and amuses him, for Noce has wit and can do this pleasantly,
enough. His father was under-governor to my son, who has thus been
accustomed from his infancy to this wicked rascal, and who is very fond
of him. I do not know for what reason, for he is a person who fears
neither God nor man, and has not a single good point about him; he is
green, black, and deep yellow; he is ten years older than my son; it is
incredible how many, millions this mercenary rogue has drawn from him.
Madame de Berri has told me that Broglie's jokes consist only in saying
openly, the most horrible things. The Broglii are of Italian extraction,
but have been long settled in France. There were three brothers, the
elder of whom died in the army; the second was an Abbe, but he cast aside
his gown, and he is the knave of whom I have been speaking. The third is
still serving in the army, and, according to common report, is one of the
best gentlemen in the world. My, son does not like him so well as his
good-for-nothing brother, because he is too serious, and would not become
his buffoon. My son excuses himself by saying that when he quits
business he wants something to make him laugh, and that young Broglie is
not old enough for this; that if he had a confidential business, or a
warlike expedition to perform, he would prefer him; but that for laughing
and dissipation of all sorts, his elder brother is more fit.
My son has three natural children, two boys and a girl, of whom only one
has been legitimated; that is his son by Mademoiselle de Seri,
[N. de Seri de la Boissiere; the father had been ambassador in
Holland. Mademoiselle de Seri was the Regent's first mistress; he
gave her the title of Comtesse d'Argenton. Her son, the Chevalier
d'Orleans, was Grand-Prieur of France.]
who was my Maid of Honour; she was genteel and gay, but not pretty nor of
a good figure. This son was called the Chevalier d'Orleans. The other,
who is now a lad of eighteen years, is the Abbe de Saint Albin; he had
this child by Florence, an opera dancer, of a very neat figure, but a
fool; although to look at her pretty face one would not have thought so.
She is since dead. The third of my son's illegitimate children is a girl
of fourteen years old, whom he had by Desmarets, an actress, who is still
on the stage. This child has been educated at a convent at Saint Denis,
but has not much inclination for a monastic life. When my son sent for
her she did not know who she was.
Desmarets wanted to lay another child to my son's account; but he
replied, "No, that child is too much of a harlequin."
When some one asked him what he meant, he said it was of so many
different pieces, and therefore he renounced it.
I do not know whether the mother did not afterwards give it to the
Elector of Bavaria, who had some share in it, and who sacrificed to her
the most beautiful snuff-box that ever was seen; it was covered with
My first son was called the Duc de Valois; but as this name was one of
[Alesandre-Louis d'Orleans, Duc de Valois, died an infant on the
16th of March, 1676; the Regent was born on the 4th of August, 1674.
It is unnecessary to mention the unhappy ends of Henri III. and of
the three Kings, his sons, who all died without issue.]
Monsieur would not suffer my other son to be called so; he took,
therefore, the title of Duc de Chartres. After Monsieur's death my son
took the name of Orleans, and his son that of Chartres.
My son is too much prejudiced in favour of his nation; and although he
sees daily that his countrymen are false and treacherous, he believes
there is no nation comparable to them. He is not very lavish of his
praise; and when he does approve of anything his sincerity gives it an
As he is now in his forty-second year the people of Paris do not forgive
him for running about at balls, like a young fool, for the amusement of
women, when he has the cares of the kingdom upon his shoulders. When the
late King ascended the throne he had reason to take his diversion; it is
not so now. Night and day it is necessary to labour in order to repair
the mischief which the late King, or rather his Ministers, did to the
When my son gently reproached that old Maintenon for having maligned him,
and asked her to put her hand upon her heart, and say whether her
calumnies were true, she replied, "I said it because I believed it."
My son replied, "You could not believe it, because you knew the
She said arrogantly, and yet my son kept his temper, "Is not the Dauphine
"Is it my fault," he rejoined, "that she is dead? Was she immortal?"
"Well," she replied, "I was so much distressed at the loss that I could
not help detesting him whom I was told was the cause of it."
"But, Madame," said my son, "you know, from the report which has been
made to the King, that I was not the cause, and that the Dauphine was not
"I do know it," she replied, "and I will say nothing more about it."
THE AFFAIRS OF THE REGENCY.
The old Maintenon wished to have the Duc du Maine made Regent; but my
son's harangue to the Parliament frustrated her intention.
He was very angry with Lord Stair because he believed that he had done
him an ill office with the King of England, and prevented the latter from
entering into the alliance with France and Holland. If that alliance had
taken place my son could have prevented the Pretender from beginning his
journey; but as England refused to do so, the Regent was obliged to do
nothing but what was stipulated for by the treaty of peace: that is to
say, not to succour the Pretender with money nor arms, which he
faithfully performed. He sent wherever Lord Stair requested.
[The Duc d'Orleans ordered, in Lord Stair's presence, Contades,
Major of the Guard, to arrest the Pretender on his passage through
Chateau-Thierry; but, adds Duclos, Contades was an intelligent man,
and well acquainted with the Regent's secret intentions, and so he
set out resolved not to find what he went in search of.]
He believed that the English people would not be well pleased to see
their King allied to the Crown of France.
The Baron Goertz thought to entrap my son, who, however, did not trust
him; he would not permit him to purchase a single ship, and it was upon
this that the Baron had built all his hopes of success.
That tall Goertz, whom I have seen, has an unlucky physiognomy; I do not
believe that he will die a fair death.
The Memoir of the thirty noblemen has so much angered my son that he will
hasten to pronounce sentence.
[Goertz was the Swedish minister, and had been sent into Holland and
France to favour the cause of the Pretender. He was arrested in
Holland in 1717, and remained in prison for several months. He was
a very cunning person, and a great political intriguer. On the
death of Charles XII. he was taken before an extraordinary
tribunal, and condemned in an unjust and arbitrary manner to be
beheaded, which sentence was executed in, May, 1719.]
The whole of the Parliament was influenced against him. He made a
remonstrance against this, which was certainly effected at the
instigation of the eldest bastard and his wife.--[The Duc and Duchesse du
Maine.]--If any one spoke ill of my son, and seemed dissatisfied, the
Duchesse du Maine: invited them to Sceaux, and pitied and caressed them
to hear them abuse my son. I wondered at his patience. He has great
courage, and went steadily on without disturbing himself about anything.
Although the Parliament of Paris sent to all the other parliaments in the
kingdom to solicit them to unite with it, none of them did so, but all
remained faithful to my son. The libels which were dispersed for the
purpose of exciting the people against him had scarcely any effect. I
believe the plot would have succeeded better if the bastard and his wife
had not engaged in it, for they were extraordinarily hated at Paris. My
son told the Parliament they had nothing to do with the coinage; that he
would maintain the royal authority, and deliver it to the King when he
should be of age in the same state as he had found it on his becoming
The Marechale d'Uxelles hated my son mortally;, but after the King's
death he played the fawning dog so completely that my son forgave him and
took him into favour again. In the latter affair he was disposed once
more to follow his natural inclination, but my son, having little value
for whatever he could do, said, "Well, if he will not sign he may let it
When the Marshal saw my son was serious and did not care at all for his
bravadoes, he became submissive and did what my son desired.
The wife of the cripple, the Duchesse du Maine, resolved to have an
explanation with my son. She made a sententious speech, just as if she
had been on the stage; she asked how he could think that the answer to
Fitz-Morris's book should have proceeded from her, or that a Princess of
the blood would degrade herself by composing libels? She told him, too,
that the Cardinal de Polignac was engaged in affairs of too much
importance to busy himself in trifles like this, and M. de Malezieux was
too much a philosopher to think of anything but the sciences. For her
own part, she said she had sufficient employment in educating her
children as became that royal dignity of which she had been wrongfully
deprived. My son only replied to her thus:--
"I have reason to believe that these libels have been got up at your
house, and by you, because that fact has been attested by persons who
have been in your service, and who have seen them in progress; beyond
this no one makes me believe or disbelieve anything."
He made no reply to her last observation, and so she went away. She
afterwards boasted everywhere of the firmness with which she had spoken
to my son.
My son this day (26th of August) assembled the Council of the Regency.
He had summoned the Parliament by a 'lettre-de-cachet': they repaired to
the Tuileries in a procession on foot, dressed in scarlet robes, hoping
by this display to excite the people in their favour; but the mob only
called out, "Where are these lobsters going?" The King had caused the
Keeper of the Seals to make a remonstrance to the Parliament for having
infringed upon his authority in publishing decrees without his sanction.
He commanded them to quash the decree, which was done; and to confirm the
authority of the Keeper of the Seals, which they did also. He then
ordered them with some sternness not to interfere with the affairs of the
Government beyond their province; and as the Duc du Maine had excited the
Parliament against the King, he was deprived of the care of His Majesty's
education, and he with his brothers were degraded from the rank of
Princes of the blood, which had been granted to them. They will in
future have no other rank than that of their respective peerages; but the
Duc du Maine alone, for the fidelity he has always manifested towards the
King, will retain his rank for his life, although his issue, if he should
have any, will not inherit it.
[Saint-Simon reports that it was the Comte de Toulouse who was allowed
to retain his rank.--See The Memoirs of Saint-Simon, Chapter XCIII.--D.W.]
Madame d'Orleans was in the greatest despair, and came to Paris in such a
condition as moved my pity for her. Madame du Maine is reported to have
said, three weeks ago, at a grand dinner, "I am accused of having caused
the Parliament to revolt against the Duc d'Orleans, but I despise him too
much to take so noble a vengeance; I will be revenged in another manner."
The Parliament had very notable projects in hand. If my son had delayed
four-and-twenty hours longer in removing the Duc du Maine from the King
it would have been decided to declare His Majesty of full age; but my son
frustrated this by dismissing the Duke, and degrading him at the same
time. The Chief President is said to have been so frightened that he
remained motionless, as if he had been petrified by a gaze at the head of
Medusa. That celebrated personage of antiquity could not have been more
a fury than Madame du Maine; she threatened dreadfully, and did not
scruple to say, in the presence of her household, that she would yet find
means to give the Regent such a blow as should make him bite the dust.
That old Maintenon and her pupil have also had a finger in the pie.
The Parliament asked pardon of my son, which proves that the Duc and
Duchesse du Maine were the mainsprings of the plot.
There is reason to believe that the old woman and the former Chancellor
were also implicated in it. The Chancellor, who would have betrayed my
son in so shameful a manner, was under the heaviest obligations to him.
What has happened is a great mortification to Maintenon, and yet she has
not given up all hopes. This makes me very anxious, for I know how
expertly she can manage poison. My son, instead of being cautious, goes
about the town at night in strange carriages, sometimes supping with one
or another of his people, none of whom are worthy of being trusted, and
who, excepting their wit, have not one good quality.
Different reports respecting the Duchesse du Maine are abroad; some say
she has beaten her husband and broken the glasses and everything brittle
in her room. Others say she has not spoken a word, and has done nothing
but weep. The Duc de Bourbon has undertaken the King's education. He
said that, not being himself of age, he did not demand this office
before, but that being so now he should solicit it, and it was
immediately given to him.
One president and two counsellors have been arrested. Before the close
of the session, the Parliament implored my son to use his good offices
with the King for the release of their members, and promised that they
should, if found culpable, be punished by the Parliament itself. My son
replied that they could not doubt he should always advise the King to the
most lenient measures; that His Majesty would not only be gracious to
them as a body, while they merited it, but also to each individual; that,
as to the prisoners, they would in good time be released.
That old Maintenon has fallen sick of grief that her project for the Duc
du Maine has miscarried.
The Duke and the Parliament had resolved to have a bed of justice held,
where my son should be dismissed, and the Regency be committed to the
Duke, while at the same time the King's household should be under arms.
The Duke and the Prince de Conti had long been urging my son without
knowing all the particulars. The Duc du Maine has not been banished to
the country, but has permission to go with his family wherever he
pleases; he will not, however, remain at Paris, because he no longer
enjoys his rank; he chooses rather to live at Sceaux, where he has an
elegant mansion and a fine park.
The little dwarf (the Duchesse du Maine) says she has more courage than
her husband, her son, and her brother-in-law put together; and that, like
another Jael, she would kill my son with her own hand, and would drive a
nail into his head. When I implored my son to be on his guard against
her, and told him this, he laughed at my fears and shook his head
I do not believe that the Devil, in his own person, is more wicked than
that old Maintenon, the Duc du Maine, and the Duchess. The latter said
openly that her husband and her brother-in-law were no better than
cowards; that, woman as she was, she was ready to demand an audience of
my son and to plunge a dagger in his heart. Let any one judge whether I
have not reason to fear such persons, and particularly, when they, have
so strong a party. Their cabal is very considerable; there are a dozen
persons of consideration, all great noblemen at Court. The richest part
of the people favour the Spanish pretensions, as well as the Duc and
Duchesse du Maine; they wish to call in the King of Spain. My, brother
has too much sense for them; they want a person who will suffer himself
to be led as they, please; the King of Spain is their man; and, for this
reason, they are trying all means to induce him to come. It is for these
reasons that I think my son is in so great danger.
My son has not yet released the three rogues of the Parliament, although
their liberation has been twice petitioned for.
The Duc du Maine and the cabal have made his sister believe that if my
son should die they would make her Regent, and would aid her with their
counsel to enable her to become one of the greatest persons in the world.
They say they mean no violence towards my son, who cannot live long on
account of his irregularities; that he must soon die or lose his sight;
and in the latter event he would consent to her becoming Regent. I know
a person to whom the Duc du Maine said so. This put an end to one's
astonishment, that she should have wished to force her daughter to marry
the Duc du Maine.
All this gave me great anxiety. I foresaw it all and said to my son,
"You are committing a folly, for which I shall have to suffer all my
He has made great changes; instead of a great number of Councils he has
appointed Secretaries of State. M. d'Armenouville is Secretary of State
for the Navy; M. le Blanc, for the Army; M. de la Vrilliere, for the Home
Department; the Abbe Dubois, for Foreign Affairs; M. de Maurepas, for the
Royal Household; and a Bishop for the Church Benefices.
Malezieux and the Cardinal de Polignac had probably as great a share in
the answer to Fitz-Morris as the Duchesse du Maine.
The Duc de Bourbon and the Prince de Conti assisted very zealously in the
disgrace of the Duc du Maine. My son could not bring himself to resolve
upon it until the treachery had been clearly demonstrated to him, and he
saw that he should lend himself to his own dishonour if he did not
prevent the blow.
My son is very fond of the Comte de Toulouse, whom he finds a sensible
person on all occasions: if the latter had followed the advice of the Duc
du Maine he would have shared his fate; but he despised his brother's
advice and followed that of his wife.
My son believes as firmly in predestination as if he had been, like me, a
Calvinist, for nineteen years. I do not know how he learnt the affair of
the Duc du Maine; he has always kept it a great secret. But what appears
the most singular to me is that he does not hate his brother-in-law, who
has endeavoured to procure his death and dishonour. I do not believe his
like was ever seen: he has no gall in his composition; I never knew him
to hate any one.
He says he will take as much care as he can; but that if God has ordained
that he shall perish by the hands of his enemies he cannot change his
destiny, and that therefore he shall go on tranquilly.
He has earnestly requested Lord Stair to speak to the King of England on
your account.--[This passage is addressed to the Princess of Wales.]--
He says no one can be more desirous than he is that you should be
reinstated in your father's affection, and that he will neglect no
opportunity of bringing it about, being persuaded that it is to the
advantage of the King of England, as well as of yourself, that you should
M. Law must be praised for his talent, but there is an astonishing number
of persons who envy him in this country. My son is delighted with his
cleverness in business.
He has been compelled to arrest the Spanish Ambassador, the Prince of
Cellamara, because letters were found upon his courier, the Abbe Porto
Carero, who was his nephew, and who has also been arrested, containing
evidence of a plot against the King and against my son. The Ambassador
was arrested by two Counsellors of State. It was time that this
treachery should be made public. A valet of the Abbe Porto Carero having
a bad horse, and not being able to get on so quick as his master, stayed
two relays behind, and met on his way the ordinary courier from Poitiers.
The valet asked him, "What news?"
"I don't know any," replied the postilion, "except that they have
arrested at Poitiers an English bankrupt and a Spanish Abbe who was
carrying a packet."
When the valet heard this he instantly took a fresh horse, and, instead
of following his master, he came back full gallop to Paris. So great was
his speed, that he fell sick upon his arrival in consequence of the
exertion. He outstripped my son's courier by twelve hours, and so had
time to apprise the Prince of Cellamara twelve hours before his arrest,
which gave him time to burn his most important letters and papers. My
son's enemies pretend to treat this affair as insignificant to the last
degree; but I cannot see anything insignificant in an Ambassador's
attempting to cause a revolt in a whole kingdom, and among the
Parliament, against my son, and meditating his assassination as well as
that of his son and daughter. I alone was to have been let live.
That Des Ursins must have the devil in her to have stirred up Pompadour
against my son. He is not any very great personage; but his wife is a
daughter of the Duc de Navailles, who was my son's governor. Madame de
Pompadour was the governess of the young Duc d'Alencon, the son of Madame
de Berri. As to the Abbe Brigaut, I know him very well. Madame de
Ventadour was his godmother, and he was baptized at the same time with
the first Dauphin, when he received the name of Tillio. He has talent,
but he is an intriguer and a knave. He pretended at first to be very
devout, and was appointed Pere de l'Oratoire; but, getting tired of this
life, he took up the trade of catering for the vices of the Court, and
afterwards became the secretary and factotum of Madame du Maine, for whom
he used to assist in all the libels and pasquinades which were written
against my son. It would be difficult to say which prated most, he or
Madame d'Orleans has great influence over my son. He loves all his
children, but particularly his eldest daughter. While still a child, she
fell dangerously ill, and was given over by her physicians. My son was
in deep affliction at this, and resolved to attempt her cure by treating
her in his own way, which succeeded so well that he saved her life, and
from that moment has loved her better than all his other children.
The Abbe Dubois has an insinuating manner towards every one; but more
particularly towards those of whom he had the care in their childhood.
Two Germans were implicated in the conspiracy; but I am only surprised at
one of them, the Brigadier Sandrazky, who was with me daily, and in whose
behalf I have often spoken, because his father served my brother as
commandant at Frankendahl; he died in the present year. The other is the
Count Schlieben, who has only one arm. I am not astonished at him; for,
in the first place, I know how he lost his arm; and, in the second, he is
a friend and servant of the Princesse des Ursins: they expect to take him
at Lyons. Sandrazky was at my toilette the day before yesterday; as he
looked melancholy, I asked him what was the matter? He replied, "I am
ill with vexation: I love my wife, who is an Englishwoman, very tenderly,
and she is no less fond of me; but, as we have not the means of keeping
up an establishment, she must go into a convent. This distresses me so
much that I am really very unwell."
I was grieved to hear this, and resolved to solicit my son for him.
My son sometimes does as is said in Atys,--[The opera of Atys, act ii.,
scene 3.]--"Vous pourriez aimer et descendre moins bas;" for when Jolis
was his rival, he became attached to one of his daughter's 'filles de
chambre', who hoped to marry Jolis because he was rich; for this reason
she received him better than my son, who, however, at last gained her
favour. He afterwards took her away from his daughter, and had her
taught to sing, for she had a fine voice.
The printed letters of Cellamara disclose the whole of the conspiracy.
The Abbe Brigaut, too, it is said, begins to chatter about it. This
affair has given me so much anxiety that I only sleep through mere
exhaustion. My heart beats incessantly; but my son has not the least
care about it. I beseech him, for God's sake, not to go about in coaches
at night, and he promises me he will not; but he will no more keep that
promise than he did when he made it to me before.
It is now eight days since the Duc du Maine and his wife were arrested
(29th December). She was at Paris, and her husband at Sceaux in his
chateau. One of the four captains of the King's Guard arrested the
Duchess, the Duke was arrested only by a lieutenant of the Body Guard.
The Duchess was immediately taken to Dijon and her husband to the
fortress of Doullens. I found Madame d'Orleans much more calm than I had
expected. She was much grieved, and wept bitterly; but she said that,
since her brother was convicted, she must confess he had done wrong; that
he was, with his wife, the cause of his own misfortune, but that it was
no less painful to her to know that her own brother had thus been
plotting against her husband. His guilt was proved upon three points:
first, in a paper under the hand of the Spanish Ambassador, the Prince of
Cellamara, in which he imparted to Alberoni that the Duchesse and the Duc
du Maine were at the head of the conspiracy; he tells him how many times
he has seen them, by whose means, and in what place; then he says that he
has given money to the Duc du Maine to bribe certain persons, and he
mentions the sum. There are already two men in the Bastille who confess
to have received money, and others who have voluntarily stated that they
conducted the Ambassador to the Duke and Duchess, and negotiated
everything between the parties. The greater part of their servants have
been sent to the Bastille. The Princess is deeply afflicted; and,
although the clearest proofs are given of her children's crime, she
throws all the blame upon the Duke, her grandson, who, she says, has
accused them falsely, because he hates them, and she has refused to see
him. The Duchess is more moderate in her grief. The little Princesse de
Conti heartily pities her sister and weeps copiously, but the elder
Princess does not trouble herself about her uncle and aunt.
The Cardinals cannot be arrested, but they may be exiled; therefore the
Cardinal de Polignac has been ordered to retire to one of his abbeys and
to remain there. It was love that turned his head. He was formerly a
great friend of my son's, and he did not change until he became attached
to that little hussy.
[Foucault de Magni, introducteur des ambassadeurs, and son of a
Counsellor of State. Duclos says he was a silly fellow, who never
did but, one wise thing, which was to run away.]
has not yet been taken; he flies from one convent to another. He stayed
with the Jesuits a long time.
They say that the Duchesse du Maine used all her persuasions to induce
her husband to fly; but that he replied, as neither of them had written
anything with their own hands, nothing could be proved against them;
while, by flying, they would confess their guilt. They did not consider
that M. de Pompadour could say enough to cause their arrest.
The Duchess's fraternal affection is a much stronger passion than her
love for her children.
A letter of Alberoni's to the lame bastard has been intercepted, in which
is the following passage: "As soon as you declare war in France spring
all your mines at once."
What enrages me is that Madame d'Orleans and the Princess would still
make one believe that the Duc and Duchesse du Maine are totally innocent,
although proofs of their guilt are daily appearing. The Duchess came to
me to beg I would procure an order for her daughter's people, that is,
her dames d'honneur, her femmes de chambre, and her hair-dresser, to be
sent to her. I could not help laughing, and I said, "Mademoiselle de
Launay is an intriguer and one of the persons by whom the whole affair
But she replied, "The Princess is at the Bastille."--"I know it," I said;
"and well she has deserved it." This almost offended the Princess.
The Duchesse du Maine said openly that she should never be happy until
she had made an end of my son. When her mother reproached her with it,
she did not deny it, but only replied, "One says things in a passion
which one does not mean to do."
Although the plot has been discovered, the conspirators have not yet been
all taken. My son says, jokingly, "I have hold of the monster's head and
tail, but I have not yet got his body"
I can guess how it happened that the mercantile letters stated my son to
have been arrested; it is because the conspirators intended to have done
so, and two days later it would have taken place. It must have been
persons of this party, therefore, who wrote to England.
When Schlieben was seized, he said, "If Monsieur the Regent does not take
pity upon me, I am ruined."
He was for a long time at the Spanish Court, where he was protected by
the Princesse des Ursins. He has some wit, can chatter well, and is an
excellent spy for such a lady. The persons who had arrested him took him
to Paris by the diligence, without saying a word. On reaching Paris the
diligence was ordered to the Bastille; the poor travellers not knowing
why, were in a great fright, and expected all to be locked up, but were
not a little pleased at being set free. Sandrazky is not very clever; he
is a Silesian. He married an Englishwoman, whose fortune he soon
dissipated, for he is a great gambler.
The Duchesse du Maine has fallen sick with rage, and that old Maintenon
is said to be afflicted by the affair more than any other person. It was
by her fault that they fell into this scrape, for she put it into their
heads that it was unjust they should not reign, and that the kingdom
belonged as much to them as King Solomon's did to him.
Madame d'Orleans weeps for her brother by day and night.
They tried to arrest the Duc de Saint-Aignan at Pampeluna; but he
effected his escape with his wife, and in disguise.
When they carried away the Duc du Maine, he said, "I shall soon return,
for my innocence will be speedily manifested; but I only speak for
myself, my wife may not come back quite so soon."
Madame d'Orleans cannot believe that her brother has been engaged in a
conspiracy; she says it must have been his wife who acted in his name.
The Princess, on the other hand, believes that her daughter is innocent,
and that the Duc du Maine alone has carried on the plot.
The factum is not badly drawn up. Our priest can write well enough when
he likes; he drew it up, and my son corrected it.
The more the affair is examined, the more clearly does the guilt of the
Duke and Duchess appear; for three days ago, Malezieux, who is in the
Bastille, gave up his writing-desk. The first thing that was found in it
was a projet, which Malezieux had written at the Duchess's bedside, and
which Cardinal de Polignac had corrected with his own hand. Malezieux
pretends that it is a Spanish letter, addressed to the Duchess, and that
he had translated it for her, with the assistance of the Cardinal de
Polignac; and yet the letters of Alberoni to the Prince de Cellamara
refer so directly to this projet that it is easy to see that they spring
from the same source.
The Duchesse du Maine has made the Princess believe that the Duke (of
Bourbon) was the cause of all this business, so that now he dare not
appear before the latter, although he has always behaved with great
respect and friendship towards her; while the Duc and Duchesse du Maine,
on the contrary, have been engaged in a law-suit against her for five
years. It was not until after the Princess had inherited the property of
Monsieur de Vendome, that this worthy couple insinuated themselves into
her good graces.
The Parliament is reconciled to my son, and has pronounced its decree,
which is favourable to him, and which is another proof that the Duc du
Maine had excited it against him.
The Jesuits have probably been also against my son; for all those who
have declared against the Constitution cannot be friendly to him; they
have, however, kept so quiet that nothing can be brought against them.
They are cunning old fellows.
Madame d'Orleans begins to recover her spirits and to laugh again,
particularly since I learn she has consulted the Premier President and
other persons, to know whether, upon my son's death, she would become the
Regent. They told her that could not be, but that the office would fall
upon the Duke. This answer is said to have been very unpalatable to her.
If my son would have paid a price high enough to the Cardinal de
Polignac, he would have betrayed them all. He is now consoling himself
in his Abbey with translating Lucretius.
The King of Spain's manifesto, instead of injuring my son, has been
useful to him, because it was too violent and partial. Alberoni must
needs be a brutal and an intemperate person. But how could a journeyman
gardener know the language which ought to be addressed to crowned heads?
Several thousand copies of this manifesto have been transmitted to Paris,
addressed to all the persons in the Court, to all the Bishops, in short,
to everybody; even to the Parliament, which has taken the affair up very
properly, from Paris to Bordeaux, as the decree shows. I thought it
would have been better to burn this manifesto in the post-office instead
of suffering it to be spread about; but my son said they should all be
delivered, for the express purpose of discovering the feelings of the
parties to whom they were addressed, and a register of them was kept at
the post-office. Those who were honest brought them of their own accord;
the others kept them, and they are marked, without the public knowing
anything about it. The manifesto is the work of Malezieux and the
Cardinal de Polignac.
A pamphlet has been cried about the streets, entitled, "Un arret contre
les poules d'Inde." Upon looking at it, however, it seems to be a decree
against the Jesuits, who had lost a cause respecting a priory, of which
they had taken possession. Everybody bought it except the partisans of
the Constitution and of the Spanish faction.
My son is more fond of his daughters, legitimate and illegitimate, than
The Duc and Duchesse du Maine rely upon nothing having been found in
their writing; but Mademoiselle de Montauban and Malezieux have written.
in their name; and is not what Pompadour has acknowledged voluntarily
quite as satisfactory a proof as even their own writing?
They have got the pieces of all the mischievous Spanish letters written
by the same hand, and corrected by that of the Cardinal de Polignac, so
that there can be no doubt of his having composed them.
A manifesto, too, has been found in Malezieux's papers. It is well
written, but not improved by the translation. Malezieux pretends that he
only translated it before it was sent hence to Spain.
Mademoiselle de Montauban and Mademoiselle de Launay, a person of some
wit, who has kept up a correspondence with Fontenelle, and who was 'femme
de chambre' to the Duchesse du Maine, have both been sent to the
The Duc du Maine now repents that he followed his wife's advice; but it
seems that he only followed the worst part of it.
The Duchesse d'Orleans has been for some days past persuading my son to
go masked to a ball. She says that his daughter, the Duchesse de Berri,
and I, make him pass for a coward by preventing him from going to balls
and running about the town by night as he used to do before; and that he
ought not to manifest the least symptom of fear. He replied that he knew
he should give me great pain by doing so, and that the least he could do
was to tranquillize my mind by living prudently. She then said that the
Duchesse de Berri filled me with unfounded fears in order that she might
have more frequent opportunities of being with him, and of governing him
entirely. Can the Devil himself be worse than this bastard? It teaches
me, however, that my son is not secure with her. I must do violence to
myself that my suspicions may not be apparent.
My son has not kept his word; he went to this ball, although he denies
Although it is well known that Maintenon has had a hand in all these
affairs, nothing can be said to her, for her name does not appear in any
When my son is told of persons who hate him and who seek his life, he
laughs and says, "They dare not; I am not so weak that I cannot defend
myself." This makes me very angry.
If the proofs against Malezieux are not manifest, and if they do not put
the rogue upon his trial, it will be because his crime is so closely
connected with that of the Duchesse du Maine that, in order to convict
him before the Parliament, he must be confronted with her. Besides, as
the Parliament is better disposed towards the Duc and Duchesse du Maine
than to my son, they might be acquitted and taken out of his hands, which
would make them worse than they are now. For this reason it is that they
are looking for proofs so clear that the Parliament cannot refuse to
pronounce upon them.
The Duc du Maine writes thus to his sister:
"They ought not to have put me in prison; but they ought to have stripped
me and put me into petticoats for having been thus led by my wife;" and
he wrote to Madame de Langeron that he enjoyed perfect repose, for which
he thanked God; that he was glad to be no longer exposed to the contempt
of his family; and that his sons ought to be happy to be no longer with
The King of Spain and Alberoni have a personal hatred against my son,
which is the work of the Princesse des Ursins.
My son is naturally brave, and fears nothing: death is not at all
terrible to him.
On the 29th of March the young Duc de Richelieu was taken to the
Bastille: this caused a great number of tears to be shed, for he is
universally loved. He had kept up a correspondence with Alberoni, and
had got his regiment placed at Bayonne, together with that of his friend,
M. de Saillant, for the purpose of delivering the town to the Spaniards.
He went on Wednesday last to the Marquis de Biron, and urged him to
despatch him as promptly as possible to join his regiment at Bayonne, and
so prove the zeal which attached him to my son. His comrade, who passes
for a coward and a sharper at play, has also been shut up in the
[On the day that they were arrested, the Regent said he had that in
his pocket which would cut off four heads, if the Duke had so many.
--Memoires de Duclos.]
The Duc de Richelieu had the portraits of his mistresses painted in all
sorts of monastic habits: Mademoiselle de Charolais as a Recollette nun,
and it is said to be very like her. The Marechales de Villars and
d'Estrees are, it is said, painted as Capuchin nuns.
When the Duc de Richelieu was shown his letter to Alberoni, he confessed
all that concerned himself, but would not disclose his accomplices.
Nothing but billets-doux were found in his writing-case. Alberoni in
this affair trusted a man who had formerly been in his service, but who
is now a spy of my son's. He brought Alberoni's letter to the Regent;
who opened it, read it, had a copy made, resealed it, and sent it on to
its destination. The young Duc de Richelieu answered it, but my son can
make no use of this reply because the words in which it is written have a
The Princess has strongly urged my son to permit the Duchesse du Maine to
quit Dijon, under the pretext that the air was unwholesome for her. My
son consented upon condition that she should be conducted in her own
carriage, but under the escort of the King's Guard, from Dijon to
Here she thought she should enjoy comparative liberty, and that the town
would be her prison: she was much astonished to find that she was as
closely confined at Chalons as at Dijon. When she asked the reason for
this rigour she was told that all was discovered, and that the prisoners
had disclosed the particulars of the conspiracy. She was immediately
struck with this; but recovering her self-possession, she said, "The Duc
de Orleans thinks that I hate him; but if he would take my advice, I
would counsel him better than any other person." My son's wife remains
On the 17th of April a rascal was brought in who was near surprising my
son in the Bois de Boulogne a year ago. He is a dismissed colonel; his
name is La Jonquiere. He had written to my son demanding enormous
pensions and rewards; but meeting with a refusal, he went into Spain,
where he promised Alberoni to carry off my son, and deliver him into his
hands, dead or alive. He brought one hundred men with him, whom he put
in ambuscade near Paris. He missed my son only by a quarter of an hour
in the Bois de Boulogne, which the latter had passed through in his way
to La Muette, where he went to dine with his daughter. La Jonquiere
having thus failed, retired in great vexation to the Low Countries, where
he boasted that, although he had missed this once, he would take his
measures so much better in future that people should soon hear of a great
blow being struck. This was luckily repeated to my son, who had him
arrested at Liege. He sent a clever fellow to him, who caught him, and
leading him out of the house where they were, he clapped a pistol to his
throat, and threatened to shoot him on the spot if he did not go with him
and without speaking a word. The rascal, overcome with terror, suffered
himself to be taken to the boat, but when he saw that they were
approaching the French territory he did not wish to go any further; he
said he was ruined, and should be drawn and quartered. They bound him
and carried him to the Bastille.
I have exhorted my son to take care of himself, and not to go out but in
a carriage. He has promised that he will not, but I cannot trust him.
The late Monsieur was desirous that his son's wife should not be a
coquette. This was not the particular which I so much disapproved of;
but I wished the husband not to be informed of it, or that it should get
abroad, which would have had no other effect than that of convincing my
son that his wife had dishonoured him.
I must never talk to my son about the conspiracy in the presence of
Madame d'Orleans; it would be wounding her in the tenderest place; for
all that concerns her brother is to her the law and the prophets.
My son has so satisfactorily disproved the accusations of that old
Maintenon and the Duc du Maine, that the King has believed him, and,
after a minute examination, has done my son justice. But Madame
d'Orleans has not conducted herself well in this affair; she has spread
by means of her creatures many calumnies against my son, and has even
said that he wanted to poison her. By such means she has made her peace
with old Maintenon, who could not endure her before. I have often
admired the patience with which my son suffers all this, when he knows it
just as well as I do. If things had remained as Madame de Maintenon had
arranged them at the death of the King, my son would only have been
nominally Regent, and the Duc du Maine would actually have enjoyed all
the power. She thought because my son was in the habit of running after
women a little that he would be afraid of the labour, and that he would
be contented with the title and a large pension, leaving her and the Duc
du Maine to have their own way. This was her plan, and she fancied that
her calumnies had so far succeeded in making my son generally despised
that no person would be found to espouse his cause. But my son was not
so unwise as to suffer all this; he pleaded his cause so well to the
Parliament that the Government was entrusted to him, and yet the old
woman did not relinquish her hopes until my son had the Duc du Maine
arrested; then she fainted.
The Pope's nuncio thrusts his nose into all the plots against my son; he
may be a good priest, but he is nevertheless a wicked devil.
On the 25th of April M. de Laval, the Duchesse de Roquelaure's brother,
M. de Pompadour has accused the Duc de Laval of acting in concert with
the Prince de Cellamara, to whom, upon one occasion, he acted as
coachman, and drove him to the Duchesse du Maine at the Arsenal. This
Comte de Laval is always sick and covered with wounds; he wears a plaster
which reaches from ear to ear; he is lame, and often has his arm in a
sling; nevertheless, he is full of intrigue, and is engaged night and day
in writing against my son.
Madame de Maintenon is said to have sent large sums of money into the
provinces for the purpose of stirring up the people against my son; but,
thank God, her plan has not succeeded.
The old woman has spread about the report that my son poisoned all the
members of the Royal Family who have died lately. She hired one of the
King's physicians first to spread this report. If Marechal, the King's
surgeon, who was present at the opening of the bodies, had not stated
that there was no appearance of poison, and confirmed that statement to
the King, this infamous creature would have plunged my innocent son into
a most deplorable situation.
Mademoiselle de Charolais says that the affair of Bayonne cannot be true,
for that the Duc de Richelieu did not tell her of it, and he never
concealed anything from her. She says, too, that she will not see my
son, for his having put the Duke into the Bastille.
The Duke walks about on the top of the terrace at the Bastille, with his
hair dressed, and in an embroidered coat. All the ladies who pass stop
their carriages to look at the pretty fellow.
[This young man, says Duclos, thought himself of some consequence
when he was made a State prisoner, and endured his confinement with
the same levity which he had always displayed in love, in business,
or in war. The Regent was much amused with him, and suffered him to
have all he wanted-his valet de chambre, two footmen, music, cards,
etc.; so that, although he was deprived of his liberty, he might be
as licentious as ever.]
Madame d'Orleans has been so little disposed to undertake her husband's
defence in public, that she has pretended to believe the charges against
him, although no person in the world knows better than she does that the
whole is a lie. She sent to her brothers for a counter-poison, so that
my son should not take her off by those means; and thus she reconciled
Maintenon, who was at enmity with her. I learnt this story during the
year, and I do not know whether my son is aware of it. I would not say
anything to him about it, for I did not wish to embroil man and wife.
The Abbe Dubois--[Madame probably means the Duc du Maine]-- seems to
think that we do not know how many times he went by night to Madame de
Maintenon's, to help this fine affair.
My son has been dissuaded from issuing the manifesto.
Madame d'Orleans has at length quite regained her husband; and, following
her advice, he goes about by night in a coach. On Wednesday night he set
off for Anieres, where Parabere has a house. He supped there, and,
getting into his carriage again, after midnight, he put his foot into a
hole and sprained it.
I am very much afraid my son will be attacked by the small-pox. He eats
heavy suppers; he is short and fat, and just one of those persons whom
the disease generally attacks.
The Cardinal de Noailles has been pestering my son in favour of the Duc
de Richelieu; and as it cannot be positively proved that he addressed the
letter to Alberoni, they can do no more to him than banish him to
Conflans, after six months' imprisonment. Mademoiselle de Charolais
procured some one to ask my son secretly by what means she could see the
Duc de Richelieu, and speak with him, before he set off for Conflans.
[This must have been a joke of Mademoiselle de Charolais; for she
had already, together with Mademoiselle Valois, paid the Duke
several visits in the Bastille. When the Duke was sent to Conflans
to the Cardinal de Noailles, he used to escape almost every night,
and come to see his mistresses. It was this that determined the
Regent to send him to Saint-Germain en Laye; but, soon afterwards,
Mademoiselle de Valois obtained from her father a pardon for her
lover.---Memoirs de Richelieu, tome iii., p. 171]
My son replied, "that she had better speak to the Cardinal de Noailles;
for as he was to conduct the Duke to Conflans, and keep him in his own
house, he would know better than any other person how he might be spoken
with." When she learnt that the Duke had arrived at Saint-Germain, she
hastened thither immediately.
I never doubted for a moment that my son's marriage was in every respect
unfortunate; but my advice was not listened to. If the union had been a
good one, that old Maintenon would not have insisted on it.
Nothing less than millions are talked of on all sides: my sun has made me
also richer by adding 130,000 livres to my pension.
By what we hear daily of the insurrection in Bretagne, it seems that my
son's enemies are more inveterate against him than ever. I do not know
whether it is true, as has been said, that there was a conspiracy at
Rochelle, and that the governor intended to give up the place to the
Spaniards, but has fled; that ten officers were engaged in the plot, some
of whom have been arrested, and the others have fled to Spain.
I always took the Bishop of Soissons for an honest man. I knew him when
he was only an Abbe, and the Duchess of Burgundy's almoner; but the
desire to obtain a Cardinal's hat drives most of the Bishops mad. There
is not one of them who does not believe that the more impertinently he
behaves to my son about the Constitution, the more he will improve his
credit with the Court of Rome, and the sooner become a Cardinal.
My son, although he is Regent, never comes to see me, and never quits me,
without kissing my hand before he embraces me; and he will not even take
a chair if I hand it to him. He is not, however, at all timid, but chats
familiarly with me, and we laugh and talk together like good friends.
While the Dauphin was alive La Chouin behaved very ill to my son; she
embroiled him with the Dauphin, and would neither speak to nor see him;,
in short, she was constantly opposed to him. And yet, when he learnt
that she had fallen into poverty, he sent her money, and secured her a
pension sufficient to live upon.
My son gave me actions to the amount of two millions, which I distributed
among my household. The King also took several millions for his own,
household; all the Royal Family have had them; all the enfans and petits
enfans de France, and the Princes of the blood.
[This may be stock the M. Law floated in the Mississippi Company. D.W.]
The old Court is doing its utmost to put people, out of conceit with
I do not think that Lord Stair praises my son so much as he used to do,
for they do not seem to be very good friends. After having received all
kinds of civilities from my son, who has made him richer than ever he
expected to be in his life, he has turned his back upon him, caused him
numerous little troubles, and annoys him so much that my son would gladly
be rid of him.
My son was obliged to make a speech at the Bank, which was applauded.
They have been obliged to adopt severe measures in Bretagne; four persons
of quality have been beheaded. One of them, who might have escaped by
flying to Spain, would not go. When he was asked why, he said it had
been predicted that he should die by sea (de la mer). Just before he was
executed he asked the headsman what his name was.
"My name is Sea (La Mer)," replied the man.
"Then," said the nobleman, "I am undone."
All Paris has been mourning at the cursed decree which Law has persuaded
my son to make. I have received anonymous letters, stating that I have
nothing to fear on my own account, but that my son shall be pursued with
fire and sword; that the plan is laid and the affair determined on. From
another quarter I have learnt that knives are sharpening for my son's
assassination. The most dreadful news is daily reaching me. Nothing
could appease the discontent until, the Parliament having assembled, two
of its members were deputed to wait upon my son, who received them
graciously, and, following their advice, annulled the decree, and so
restored things to their former condition. This proceeding has not only
quieted all Paris, but has reconciled my son (thank God) to the
My son wished by sending an embassy to give a public proof how much he
wished for a reconciliation between the members of the Royal Family of
England, but it was declined.
The goldsmiths will work no longer, for they charge their goods at three
times more than they are worth, on account of the bank-notes. I have
often wished those bank-notes were in the depths of the infernal regions;
they have given my son much more trouble than relief. I know not how
many inconveniences they have caused him. Nobody in France has a penny;
but, saving your presence, and to speak in plain palatine, there is
plenty of paper
It is singular enough that my son should only become so firmly attached
to his black Parabere, when she had preferred another and had formally
Excepting the affair with Parabere, my son lives upon very good terms
with his wife, who for her part cares very little about it; nothing is so
near to her heart as her brother, the Duc du Maine. In a recent quarrel
which she had with my son on this subject, she said she would retire to
Rambouillet or Montmartre. "Wherever you please," he replied; "or
wherever you think you will be most comfortable." This vexed her so mach
that she wept day and night about it.
On the 17th of June, while I was at the Carmelites, Madame de Chateau-
Thiers came to see me, and said to me, "M. de Simiane is come from the
Palais Royal; and he thinks it fit you should know that on your return
you will find all the courts filled with the people who, although they do
not say anything, will not disperse. At six o'clock this morning they
brought in three dead bodies which M. Le Blanc has had removed. M. Law
has taken refuge in the Palais Royal: they have done him no harm; but his
coach man was stoned as he returned, and the carriage broken to pieces.
It was the coachman's fault, who told them 'they were a rabble, and ought
to be hanged.'" I saw at once that it would not do to seem to be
intimidated, so I ordered the coach to be driven to the Palais Royal.
There was such a press of carriages that I was obliged to wait a full
hour before I reached the rue Saint-Honore; then I heard the people
talking: they did not say anything against my son; they gave me several
benedictions, and demanded that Law should be hanged. When I reached the
Palais Royal all was calm again. My son came to me, and in the midst of
my anxiety he was perfectly tranquil, and even made me laugh.
M. Le Blanc went with great boldness into the midst of the irritated
populace and harangued them. He had the bodies of the men who had been
crushed to death in the crowd brought away, and succeeded in quieting
My son is incapable of being serious and acting like a father with his
children; he lives with them more like a brother than a father.
The Parliament not only opposed the edict, and would not allow it to
pass, but also refused to give any opinion, and rejected the affair
altogether. For this reason my son had a company of the footguard placed
on Sunday morning at the entrance of the palace to prevent their
assembling; and, at the same time, he addressed a letter to the Premier-
President, and to the Parliament a 'lettre-de-cachet', ordering them to
repair to Pontoise to hold their sittings. The next day, when the
musketeers had relieved the guards, the young fellows, not knowing what
to do to amuse themselves, resolved to play at a parliament. They
elected a chief and other presidents, the King's ministers, and the
advocates. These things being settled, and having received a sausage and
a pie for breakfast, they pronounced a sentence, in which they condemned
the sausage to be cooked and the pie to be cut up.
All these things make me tremble for my son. I receive frequently
anonymous letters full of dreadful menaces against him, assuring me that
two hundred bottles of wine have been poisoned for him, and, if this
should fail, that they will make use of a new artificial fire to burn him
alive in the Palais Royal.
It is too true that Madame d'Orleans loves her brother better than her
The Duc du Maine says that if, by his assistance, the King should obtain
the direction of his own affairs, he would govern him entirely, and would
be more a monarch than the King, and that after my son's death he would
reign with his sister.
A week ago I received letters in which they threatened to burn my son at
the Palais Royal and me at Saint Cloud. Lampoons are circulated in
My son has already slept several times at the Tuileries, but I fear that
the King will not be able to accustom himself to his ways, for my son
could never in his life play with children: he does not like them.
He was once beloved, but since the arrival of that cursed Law he is hated
more and more. Not a week passes without my receiving by the post
letters filled with frightful threats, in which my son is spoken of as a
bad man and a tyrant.
I have just now received a letter in which he is threatened with poison.
When I showed it to him he did nothing but laugh, and said the Persian
poison could not be given to him, and that all that was said about it was
To-morrow the Parliament will return to Paris, which will delight the
Parisians as much as the departure of Law.
That old Maintenon has sent the Duc du Maine about to tell the members of
the Royal Family that my son poisoned the Dauphin, the Dauphine, and the
Duc de Berri. The old woman has even done more she has hinted to the
Duchess that she is not secure in her husband's house, and that she
should ask her brother for a counter-poison, as she herself was obliged
to do during the latter days of the King's life.
The old woman lives very retired. No one can say that any imprudent
expressions have escaped her. This makes me believe that she has some
plan in her head, but I cannot guess what it is.
THE DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS, WIFE OF THE REGENT.
If, by shedding my own blood, I could have prevented my son's marriage,
I would willingly have done so; but since the thing was done, I have had
no other wish than to preserve harmony. Monsieur behaved to her with
great attention during the first month, but as soon as he suspected that
she looked with too favourable an eye upon the Chevalier du Roye,
[Bartholemi de La Rochefoucauld, at first Chevalier de Roye, but
afterwards better known by the title of Marquis de La Rochefoucauld.
He was Captain of the Duchesse de Berri's Body-Guards, and he died
he hated her as the Devil. To prevent an explosion, I was obliged daily
to represent to him that he would dishonour himself, as well as his son,
by exposing her conduct, and would infallibly bring upon himself the
King's displeasure. As no person had been less favourable to this
marriage than I, he could not suspect but that I was moved, not from any
love for my daughter-in-law, but from the wish to avoid scandal and out
of affection to my son and the whole family. While all eclat was
avoided, the public were at least in doubt about the matter; by an
opposite proceeding their suspicions would have been confirmed.
Madame d'Orleans looks older than she is; for she paints beyond all
measure, so that she is often quite red. We frequently joke her on this
subject, and she even laughs at it herself. Her nose and cheeks are
somewhat pendant, and her head shakes like an old woman: this is in
consequence of the small-pox. She is often ill, and always has a
fictitious malady in reserve. She has a true and a false spleen;
whenever she complains, my son and I frequently rally her about it.
I believe that all the indispositions and weaknesses she has proceed from
her always lying in bed or on a sofa; she eats and drinks reclining,
through mere idleness; she has not worn stays since the King's death;
she never could bring herself to eat with the late King, her own father,
still less would she with me. It would then be necessary for her to sit
upon a stool, and she likes better to loll upon a sofa or sit in an arm-
chair at a small table with her favourite, the Duchess of Sforza. She
admits her son, and sometimes Mademoiselle d'Orleans. She is so indolent
that she will not stir; she would like larks ready roasted to drop into
her mouth; she eats and walks slowly, but eats enormously. It is
impossible to be more idle than she is: she admits this herself; but she
does not attempt to correct it: she goes to bed early that she may lie
the longer. She never reads herself, but when she has the spleen she
makes her women read her to sleep. Her complexion is good, but less so
than her second daughter's. She walks a little on one side, which Madame
de Ratzenhausen calls walking by ear. She does not think that there is
her equal in the world for beauty, wit, and perfection of all kinds. I
always compare her to Narcissus, who died of self-admiration. She is so
vain as to think she has more sense than her husband, who has a great
deal; while her notions are not in the slightest degree elevated. She
lives much in the femme-de-chambre style; and, indeed, loves this society
better than that of persons of birth. The ladies are often a week
together without seeing her; for without being summoned they cannot
approach her. She does not know how to live as the wife of a prince
should, having been educated like the daughter of a citizen. A long time
had elapsed before she and her younger brother were legitimated by the
King; I do not know for what reason.
[This legitimation presented great difficulties during the life of
the Marquis de Montespan. M. Achille de Harlai, Procureur-General
du Parliament, helped to remove them by having the Chevalier de
Longueville, son of the Duke of that name and of the Marechale de la
Feste, recognized without naming his mother. This once done, the
children of the King and of Madame de Montespan were legitimated in
the same manner.]
When they arrived at Court their conversation was exactly like that of
the common people.
In my opinion my son's wife has no charms at all; her physiognomy does
not please me. I don't know whether my son loves her much, but I know
she does what she pleases with him. The populace and the femmes de
chambre are fond of her; but she is not liked elsewhere. She often goes
to the Salut at the Quinze Vingts; and her women are ordered to say that.
she is a saint, who suffers my son to be surrounded by mistresses without
complaining. This secures the pity of the populace and makes her pass
for one of the best of wives, while, in fact; she is, like her elder
brother, full of artifice.
She is very superstitious. Some years ago a nun of Fontevrault, called
Madame de Boitar, died. Whenever Madame d'Orleans loses anything she
promises to this nun prayers for the redemption of her soul from
purgatory, and then does not doubt that she shall find what she has lost.
She piques herself upon being extremely pious; but does not consider
lying and deceit are the works of the Devil and not of God. Ambition,
pride and selfishness have entirely spoilt her. I fear she will not make
a good end. That I may live in peace I seem to shut my eyes to these
things. My son often, in allusion to her pride, calls her Madame
Lucifer. She is not backward in believing everything complimentary that
is said to her. Montespan, old Maintenon, and all the femmes de chambre
have made her believe that she did my son honour in marrying him; and she
is so vain of her own birth and that of her brothers and sisters that she
will not hear a word said against them; she will not see any difference
between legitimate and illegitimate children.
She wishes to reign; but she knows nothing of true grandeur, having been
educated in too low a manner. She might live well as a simple duchess;
but not as one of the Royal Family of France. It is too true that she
has always been ambitious of possessing, not my son's heart, but his
power; she is always in fear lest some one else should govern him. Her
establishment is well regulated; my son has always let her be mistress in
this particular. As to her children, I let them go on in their own way;
they were brought here without my consent, and it is for others to take
care of them. Sometimes she displays more affection for her brother than
even for her children. An ambitious woman as she is, having it put into
her head by her brother that she ought to be the Regent, can love none
but him. She would like to see him Regent better than her husband,
because he has persuaded her that she shall reign with him; she believes
it firmly, although every one else knows that his own wife is too
ambitious to permit any one but herself to reign. Besides her ambition
she has a great deal of ill-temper. She will never pardon either the nun
of Chelles or Mademoiselle de Valois, because they did not like her
nephew with the long lips. Her anger is extremely bitter, and she will
never forgive. She loves only her relations on the maternal side.
Madame de Sforza, her favourite, is the daughter of Madame de Thianges,
Madame de Montespan's sister, and therefore a cousin of Madame d'Orleans,
who hates her sister and her nephew worse than the Devil.
I could forgive her all if she were not so treacherous. She flatters me
when I am present, but behind my back she does all in her power to set
the Duchesse de Berri against me; she tells her not to believe that I
love her, but that I wish to have her sister with me. Madame d'Orleans
believes that her daughter, Madame de Berri, loves her less than her
father. It is true that the daughter has not a very warm attachment to
her mother, but she does her duty to her; and yet the more they are full
of mutual civilities the more they quarrel. On the 4th of October, 1718,
Madame de Berri having invited her father to go and sleep at La Muette,
to see the vintage feast and dance which were to be held on the next day.
Madame d'Orleans wrote to Madame de Berri, and asked her if she thought
it consistent with the piety of the Carmelites that she should ask her
father to sleep in her house. Madame de Berri replied that it had never
been thought otherwise than pious that a parent should sleep in his
daughter's house. The mother did this only to annoy her husband and
daughter, and when she chooses she has a very cutting way. It may be
imagined how this letter was received by the father and daughter. I
arrived at La Muette just as it had come. My son dare not complain to
me, for as often as he does, I say to him, "George Dandin, you would have
it so:"--[Moliere]--he therefore only laughed and said nothing. I did
not wish to add to the bitterness which this had occasioned, for that
would have been to blow a fire already too hot; I confined myself,
therefore, to observing that when she wrote it she probably had the
She is not very fond of her children, and, as I think, she carries her
indifference too far; for the children see she does not love them, and
this makes them fond of being with me. This angers the mother, and she
reproaches them for it, which only makes them like her less.
Although she loves her son, she does not in general care so much for her
children as for her brothers, and all who belong to the House of
I was the unintentional cause of making a quarrel between her and the nun
of Chelles. At the commencement of the affair of the Duc du Maine, I
received a letter from my daughter addressed to Madame d'Orleans; and not
thinking that it was for the Abbess, who bears the same title with her
mother, I sent it to the latter. This letter happened, unluckily, to be
an answer to one of our Nun's, in which she had very plainly said what
she thought of the Duc and Duchesse du Maine, and ended by pitying her
father for being the Duke's brother-in-law, and for having contracted an
alliance so absurd and injurious. It may be guessed whether my
daughter's answer was palatable to my daughter-in-law. I am very sorry
that I made the mistake; but what right had she to read a letter which
was not meant for her?
The new Abbess of Chelles has had a great difference with her mother,
who says she will never forgive her for having agreed with her father to
embrace the religious profession without her knowledge. The daughter
said that, as her mother had always taken the side of the former Abbess
against her, she had not confided this secret to her, from a conviction
that she would oppose it to please the Abbess. This threw the mother
into a paroxysm of grief. She said she was very unhappy both in her
husband and her children; that her husband was the most unjust person in
the world, for that he kept her brother-in-law in prison, who was one of
the best and most pious of men--in short, a perfect saint; and that God
would punish such wickedness. The daughter replied it was respect for
her mother that kept her silent; and the latter became quite furious.
This shows that she hates us like the very Devil, and that she loves none
but her lame brother, and those who love him or are nearly connected with
She thinks there never was so perfect a being in the world as her mother.
She cannot quite persuade herself that she was ever Queen, because she
knew the Queen too well, who always called her daughter, and treated her
better than her sisters; I cannot tell why, because she was not the most
amiable of them.
It is quite true that there is little sympathy between my son's wife and
me; but we live together as politely as possible. Her singular conduct
shall never prevent me from keeping that promise which I made to the late
King in his last moments. He gave some good Christian exhortations to
Madame d'Orleans; but, as the proverb says, it is useless to preach to
those who have no heart to act.
In the spring of this year (1718) her brothers and relations said that
but for the antidotes which had been administered to Madame d'Orleans,
without the knowledge of me or my son, she must have perished.
I had resolved not to interfere with anything respecting this affair; but
had the satisfaction of speaking my mind a little to Madame du Maine.
I said to her: "Niece" (by which appellation I always addressed her),
"I beg you will let me know who told you that Madame d'Orleans had taken
a counterpoison unknown to us. It is the greatest falsehood that ever
was uttered, and you may say so from me to whoever told it you."
She looked red, and said, "I never said it was so."
"I am very glad of it, niece," I replied; "for it would be very
disgraceful to you to have said so, and you ought not to allow people to
bring you such tales." When she heard this she went off very quickly.
Madame d'Orleans is a little inconstant in her friendship. She is very
fond of jewels, and once wept for four-and-twenty hours because my son
gave a pair of beautiful pendants to Madame de Berri.
My son has this year (1719) increased his wife's income by 160,000
livres, the arrears of which have been paid to her from 1716, so that she
received at once the sum of 480,000 livres. I do not envy her this
money, but I cannot bear the idea that she is thus paid for her
infidelity. One must, however, be silent.
MARIE-ANNE CHRISTINE VICTOIRE OF BAVARIA, THE FIRST DAUPHINE.
She was ugly, but her extreme politeness made her very agreeable. She
loved the Dauphin more like a son than a husband. Although he loved her
very well, he wished to live with her in an unceremonious manner, and she
agreed to it to please him. I used often to laugh at her superstitious
devotion, and undeceived her upon many of her strange opinions. She
spoke Italian very well, but her German was that of the peasants of the
country. At first, when she and Bessola were talking together, I could
not understand a word.
She always manifested the greatest friendship and confidence in me to the
end of her days. She was not haughty, but as it had become the custom to
blame everything she did, she was somewhat disdainful. She had a
favourite called Bessola--a false creature, who had sold her to
Maintenon. But for the infatuated liking she had for this woman, the
Dauphine would have been much happier. Through her, however, she was
made one of the most wretched women in the world.
This Bessola could not bear that the Dauphine should speak to any person
but herself: she was mercenary and jealous, and feared that the
friendship of the Dauphine for any one else would discredit her with
Maintenon, and that her mistress's liberality to others would diminish
that which she hoped to experience herself. I told this person the truth
once, as she deserved to be told, in the presence of the Dauphine; from
which period she has neither done nor said anything troublesome to me.
I told the Dauphine in plain German that it was a shame that she should
submit to be governed by Bessola to such a degree that she could not
speak to whom she chose. I said this was not friendship, but a slavery,
which was the derision of the Court.
Instead of being vexed at this, she laughed, and said, "Has not everybody
some weakness? Bessola is mine."
This wench often put me in an ill-humour: at last I lost all patience,
and could no longer restrain myself. I would often have told her what I
thought, but that I saw it would really distress the poor Dauphine: I
therefore restrained myself, and said to her, "Out of complaisance to
you, I will be silent; but give such orders that Bessola may not again
rouse me, otherwise I cannot promise but that I may say something she
will not like."
The Dauphine thanked me affectionately, and thus more than ever engaged
When the Dauphine arrived from Bavaria, the fine Court of France was on
the decline: it was at the commencement of Maintenon's reign, which
spoilt and degraded everything. It was not, therefore, surprising that
the poor Dauphine should regret her own country. Maintenon annoyed her
immediately after her marriage in such a manner as must have excited
pity. The Dauphine had made her own marriage; she had hoped to be
uncontrolled, and to become her own mistress; but she was placed in that
Maintenon's hands, who wanted to govern her like a child of seven years
old, although she was nineteen. That old Maintenon, piqued at the
Dauphine for wishing to hold a Court, as she should have done, turned the
King against her. Bessola finished this work by betraying and selling
her; and thus was the Dauphine's misery accomplished! By selecting me
for her friend, she filled up the cup of Maintenon's hatred, who was
paying Bessola; because she knew she was jealous of me, and that I had
advised the Dauphine not to keep her, for I was quite aware that she had
secret interviews with Maintenon.
That lady had also another creature in the Dauphine's household: this was
Madame de Montchevreuil, the gouvernante of the Dauphine's filles
d'honneur. Madame de Maintenon had engaged her to place the Dauphin upon
good terms with the filles d'honneur, and she finished by estranging him
altogether from his wife. During her pregnancy, which, as well as her
lying-in, was extremely painful, the Dauphine could not go out; and this
Montchevreuil took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded her to
introduce the filles d'honneur to the Dauphin to hunt and game with him.
He became fond, in his way, of the sister of La Force, who was afterwards
compelled to marry young Du Roure. The attachment continued,
notwithstanding this marriage; and she procured the Dauphin's written
promise to marry her in case of the death of the Dauphine and her
husband. I do not know how the late King became acquainted with this
fact; but it is certain that he was seriously angered at it, and that he
banished Du Roure to Gascony, his native country. The Dauphin had an
affair of gallantry with another of his wife's filles d'honneur called
Rambures. He did not affect any dissimulation with his wife; a great
uproar ensued; and that wicked Bessola, following the directions of old
Maintenon, who planned everything, detached the Dauphin from his wife
more and more. The latter was not very fond of him; but what displeased
her in his amours was that they exposed her to be openly and constantly
ridiculed and insulted. Montchevreuil made her pay attention to all that
passed, and Bessola kept up her anger against her husband.
Maintenon had caused it to be reported among the people by her agents
that the Dauphine hated France, and that she urged the imposition of new
The Dauphine was so ill-treated in her accouchement of the Duc de Berri
that she became quite deformed, although previous to this her figure had
been remarkably good. On the evening before she died, as the little Duke
was sitting on her bed, she said to him, "My dear Berri, I love you very
much, but I have paid dearly for you." The Dauphin was not grieved at
her death; old Montchevreuil had told him so many lies of his wife that
he could not love her. That old Maintenon hoped, when this event
happened, that she should be able to govern the Duke by means of his
mistresses, which could not have been if he had continued to be attached
to his wife. This old woman had conceived so violent a hatred against
the poor Princess, that I do believe she prevailed on Clement, the
accoucheur, to treat her ill in her confinement; and what confirms me in
this is that she almost killed her by visiting her at that time in
perfumed gloves. She said it was I who wore them, which was untrue.
I would not swear that the Dauphine did not love Bessola better than her
husband; she deserved no such attachment. I often apprised her mistress
of her perfidy, but she would not believe me.
The Dauphine used to say, "We are two unhappy persons, but there is this
difference between us: you endeavoured, as much as you could, to avoid
coming here; while I resolved to do so at all events. I have therefore
deserved my misery more than you."
They wanted to make her pass for crazy, because she was always
complaining. Some hours before her death she said to me, "I shall
convince them to-day that I was not mad in complaining of my sufferings."
She died calmly and easily; but she was as much put to death as if she
had been killed by a pistol-shot.
When her funeral service was performed I carried the taper (nota bene)
and some pieces of gold to the Bishop who performed the grand mass, and
who was sitting in an arm-chair near the altar. The prelate intended to
have given them to his assistants, the priests of the King's chapel; but
the monks of Saint Denis ran to him with great eagerness, exclaiming that
the taper and the gold belonged to them. They threw themselves upon the
Bishop, whose chair began to totter, and made his mitre fall from his
head. If I had stayed there a moment longer the Bishop, with all the
monks, would have fallen upon me. I descended the four steps of the
altar in great haste, for I was nimble enough at that time, and looked on
the battle at a distance, which appeared so comical that I could not but
laugh, and everybody present did the same.
That wicked Bessola, who had tormented the Dauphine day and night, and
had made her distrust every one who approached her, and thus separated
her from all the world, returned home a year after her mistress's death.
Before her departure she played another trick by having a box made with a
double bottom, in which she concealed jewels and ready money to the
amount of 100,000 francs; and all this time she went about weeping and
complaining that, after so many years of faithful service, she was
dismissed as poor as a beggar. She did not know that her contrivance had
been discovered at the Customhouse and that the King had been apprised of
it. He ordered her to be sent for, showed her the things which she had
prepared to carry away, and said he thought she had little reason to
complain of the Dauphine's parsimony. It may be imagined how foolish she
looked. The King added that, although he might withhold them from her,
yet to show her that she had done wrong in acting clandestinely, and in
complaining as she had done, he chose to restore her the whole.
ADELAIDE OF SAVOY, THE SECOND DAUPHINE.
The Queen of Spain stayed longer with her mother than our Dauphine, and
therefore was better educated. Maintenon, who understood nothing about
education, permitted her to do whatever she pleased, that she might gain
her affections and keep her to herself. This young lady had been well
brought up by her virtuous mother; she was genteel and humorous, and
could joke very pleasantly: when she had a colour she did not look ugly.
No one can imagine what mad-headed people were about this Princess, and
among the number was the Marechale d'Estrees. Maintenon was very
properly recompensed for having given her these companions; for the
consequence was that the Dauphine no longer liked her society. Maintenon
was very desirous to know the reason of this, and teased the Princess to
tell her. At length she did; and said that the Marechale d'Estrees was
continually asking her, "What are you always doing with that old woman?
Why do you not associate with folks who would amuse you more than that
old skeleton?" and that she said many other uncivil things of her.
Maintenon told me this herself, since the death of the Dauphine, to prove
that it was only the Marechale's fault that the Dauphine had been on such
bad terms with me. This may be partly true; but it is no less certain
that Maintenon had strongly prepossessed her against me. Almost all the
foolish people who were about her were relations or friends of the old
woman; and it was by her order that they endeavoured to amuse her and
employ her, so that she might want no other society.
The young Dauphine was full of pantomime tricks. * * * * She was fond,
too, of collecting a quantity of young persons about her for the King's
amusement, who liked to see their sports; they, however, took care never
to display any but innocent diversions before him: he did not learn the
rest until after her death. The Dauphine used to call old Maintenon her
aunt, but only in jest; the fines d'honneur called her their gouvernante,
and the Marechale de La Mothe, mamma; if the Dauphine had also called
the old woman her mamma, it would have been regarded as a declaration of
the King's marriage; for this reason she only called her aunt.
It is not surprising that the Dauphine, even when she was Duchess of
Burgundy, should have been a coquette. One of Maintenon's maxims was
that there was no harm in coquetry, but that a grande passion only was a
sin. In the second place, she never took care that the Duchess of
Burgundy behaved conformably to her rank; she was often left quite alone
in her chateau with the exception of her people; she was permitted to run
about arm-in-arm with one of her young ladies, without esquires, or dames
d'honneur or d'atour. At Marly and Versailles she was obliged to go to
chapel on foot and without her stays, and seat herself near the femmes de
chambre. At Madame de Maintenon's there was no observance of ranks;
every one sat down there promiscuously; she did this for the purpose of
avoiding all discussion respecting her own rank. At Marly the Dauphine
used to run about the garden at night with the young people until two or
three o'clock in the morning. The King knew nothing of these nocturnal
sports. Maintenon had forbidden the Duchesse de Lude to tease the
Duchess of Burgundy, or to put her out of temper, because then she would
not be able to divert the King. Maintenon had threatened, too, with her
eternal vengeance whoever should be bold enough to complain of the
Dauphine to the King. It was for this reason that no one dared tell the
King what the whole Court and even strangers were perfectly well
acquainted with. The Dauphine liked to be dragged along the ground by
valets, who held her feet. These servants were in the habit of saying to
each other, "Come, shall we go and play with the Duchess of Burgundy?"
for so she was at this time. She was dreadfully nasty,
She made the Dauphin believe whatever she chose, and he was so fond of
her that one of her glances would throw him into an ecstacy and make him
forget everything. When the King intended to scold her she would put on
an air of such deep dejection that he was obliged to console her instead;
the aunt, too, used to affect similar sorrow, so that the King had enough
to do with consoling them both. Then, for quietness' sake, he used to
lean upon the old aunt, and think nothing more about the matter.
The Dauphine never cared for the Duc de Richelieu, although he boasted of
the contrary, and was sent to the Bastille for it. She was a coquette,
and chatted with all the young men; but if she loved any of them it was
Nangis, who commanded the King's regiment. She had commanded him to
pretend to be in love with little La Vrilliere, who, though not so pretty
nor with so good a presence as the Dauphine, had a better figure and was
a great coquette. This badinage, it is said, afterwards became reality.
The good Dauphin was like the husbands of all frail wives, the last to
perceive it. The Duke of Burgundy never imagined that his wife thought
of Nangis, although it was visible to all the world besides that she did.
As he was very much attached to Nangis, he believed firmly that his wife
only behaved civilly to him on his account; and he was besides convinced
that his favourite had at the same time an affair of gallantry with
Madame la Vrilliere.
The Dauphin had good sense, but he suffered his wife to govern him; he
loved only such persons as she loved, and he hated all who were
disagreeable to her. It was for this reason that Nangia enjoyed so much
of his favour, that he, with all his sense, became so perfectly
The Dauphine of Burgundy was the person whom the King loved above all
others, and whom Maintenon had taught to do whatever was agreeable to
him. Her natural wit made her soon learn and practise everything. The
King was inconsolable for her death; and when La Maintenon saw that all
she could say had no effect upon his grief, it is said that she told the
King all that she had before concealed with respect to the Dauphine's
life, and by this means dissipated his great affliction.
[This young lady, so fascinating and so dear to the King, betrayed,
nevertheless, the secrets of the State by informing her father, then
Duke of Savoy, and our enemy, of all the military projects which she
found means to read. The King had the proofs of this by the letters
which were found in the Princess's writing case after her death.
"That little slut," said he to Madame Maintenon, "has deceived us."
Memoires de Duclos, tome i.]
Three years before her death, however, the Dauphine changed greatly for
the better; she played no more foolish tricks, and left off drinking to
excess. Instead of that untameable manner which she had before, she
became polite and sensible, kept up her dignity, and did not permit the
younger ladies to be too familiar with her, by dipping their fingers into
her dish, rolling upon the bed, and other similar elegancies. She used
to converse with people, and could talk very well. It was the marriage
of Madame de Berri that effected this surprising change in the Dauphine.
Seeing that young lady did not make herself beloved, and began things in
the wrong way, she was desirous to make herself more liked and esteemed
than she was. She therefore changed her behaviour entirely; she became
reserved and reasonable, and, having sense enough to discover her
defects, she set about correcting them, in which she succeeded so as to
excite general surprise. Thus she continued until her death, and often
expressed regret that she had led so irregular a life. She used to
excuse herself by saying it was mere childishness, and that she had
little to thank those young ladies for who had given her such bad advice
and set her such bad examples. She publicly manifested her contempt for
them, and prevailed on the King not to invite them to Marly in future.
By this conduct she gained everybody's affection.
She was delicate and of rather a weak constitution. Dr. Chirac said in
her last illness that she would recover; and so she probably would have
done if they had not permitted her to get up when the measles had broken
out upon her, and she was in a copious perspiration. Had they not
blooded her in the foot she might have been alive now (1716).
Immediately after the bleeding, her skin, before as red as fire, changed
to the paleness of death, and she became very ill. When they were
lifting her out of bed I told them it was better to let the perspiration
subside before they blooded her. Chirac and Fagon, however, were
obstinate and laughed at me.
Old Maintenon said to me angrily, "Do you think you know better than all
these medical men?"
"No, Madame," I replied; "and one need not know much to be sure that the
inclination of nature ought to be followed; and since that has displayed
itself it would be better to let it have way, than to make a sick person
get up in the midst of a perspiration to be blooded."
She shrugged up her shoulders ironically. I went to the other side and
THE FIRST DAUPHIN.
All that was good in the first Dauphin came from his preceptor; all that
was bad from himself. He never either loved or hated any one much, and
yet he was very wicked. His greatest pleasure was to do something to vex
a person; and immediately afterwards, if he could do something very
pleasing to the same person, he would set about it with great
willingness. In every respect he was of the strangest temper possible:
when one thought he was good-humoured, he was angry; and when one
supposed him to be ill-humoured, he was in an amiable mood. No one could
ever guess him rightly, and I do not believe that his like ever was or
ever will be born. It cannot be said that he had much wit; but still
less was he a fool. Nobody was ever more prompt to seize the ridiculous
points of anything in himself or in others; he told stories agreeably;
he was a keen observer, and dreaded nothing so much as to be one day
King: not so much from affection for his father, as from a dread of the
trouble of reigning, for he was so extremely idle that he neglected all
things; and he would have preferred his ease to all the kingdoms and
empires of the earth. He could remain for a whole day, sitting on a sofa
or in an arm-chair, beating his cane against his shoes, without saying a
word; he never gave an opinion upon any subject; but when once, in the
course of the year, he did speak, he could express himself in terms
sufficiently noble. Sometimes when he spoke one would say he was
stupidity itself; at another time he would deliver himself with
astonishing sense. At one time you would think he was the best Prince in
the world; at another he would do all he could to give people pain.
Nobody seemed to be so ill with him but he would take the trouble of
making them laugh at the expense of those most dear to him. His maxim
was, never to seem to like one man in the Court better than another.
He had a perfect horror of favourites, and yet he sought favour himself
as much as the commonest courtier could do. He did not pride himself
upon his politeness, and was enraged when any one penetrated his
intentions. As I had known him from his infancy I could sometimes guess
his meaning, which angered him excessively. He was not very fond of
being treated respectfully; he liked better not to be put to any trouble.
He was rather partial than just, as may be shown by the regulations he
made as to the rank of my son's daughter. He never liked or hated any
Minister. He laughed often and heartily. He was a very obedient son,
and never opposed the King's will in any way, and was more submissive to
Maintenon than any other person. Those who say that he would have
retired, if the King had declared his marriage with that old woman, did
not know him; had he not an old mistress of his own, to whom he was
believed to be privately married? What prevented Maintenon from being
declared Queen was the wise reasons which the Archbishop of Cambray, M.
de Fenelon, urged to the King, and for which she persecuted that worthy
man to the day of his death.
If the Dauphin had chosen, he might have enjoyed greater credit with his
father. The King had offered him permission to go to the Royal Treasury
to bestow what favours he chose upon the persons of his own Court; and at
the Treasury orders were given that he should have whatever he asked for.
The Dauphin replied that it would give him so much trouble. He would
never know anything about State affairs lest he should be obliged to
attend the Privy Councils, and have no more time to hunt. Some persons
thought he did this from motives of policy and to make the King believe
he had no ambition; but I am persuaded it was from nothing but indolence
and laziness; he loved to live a slothful life, and to interfere with
At the King of Spain's departure our King wept a good deal; the Dauphin
also wept much, although he had never before manifested the least
affection for his children. They were never seen in his apartment
morning and evening. When he was not at the chase the Dauphin passed his
time with the great Princesse de Conti, and latterly with the Duchess.
One must have guessed that the children belonged to him, for he lived
like a stranger among them. He never called them his sons, but the Duke
of Burgundy, the Duc d'Anjou, the Duc de Berri; and they, in turn, always
called him Monseigneur.
I lived upon a very good understanding with him for more than twenty
years, and he had great confidence in me until the Duchess got possession
of him; then everything with regard to me was changed: and as, after my
husband's death, I never went to the chase with the Dauphin, I had no
further relation with him, and he behaved as if he had never seen or
known me. If he had been wise he would have preferred the society of the
Princesse de Conti to that of the Duchess, because the first, having a
good heart, loved him for himself; while the other loved nothing in the
world, and listened to nothing but her taste for pleasure, her interest,
and her ambition. So that, provided she attained her ends, she cared
little for the Dauphin, who by his condescension for this Princess gave a
great proof of weakness.
In general, his heart was not correct enough to discern what real
friendship was; he loved only those who afforded him amusement, and
despised all others. The Duchess was very agreeable and had some
pleasant notions; she was fond of eating, which was the very thing for
the Dauphin, because he found a good breakfast at her house every morning
and a collation in the afternoon. The Duchess's daughters were of the
same character as their mother; so that the Dauphin might be all the day
in the company of gay people.
He was strongly attached to his son's wife; but when she quarrelled with
the Duchess her father-in-law changed his opinion of her. What
displeased him besides was that the Duchess of Burgundy married his
younger son, the Duc de Berri, against his inclination. He was not wrong
in that, because, although the marriage was to our advantage, I must
confess that the Dauphin was not even treated with decency in the
Neither of the two Dauphins or the Dauphines ever interested themselves
much about their children. The King had them educated without consulting
them, appointed all their servants, and was even displeased if they
interfered with them in any way. The Dauphin knows nothing of good
breeding; he and his sons are perfect clowns.
The women of La Halle had a real passion for the first Dauphin; they had
been made to believe that he would take the part of the people of Paris,
in which there was not a word of truth. The people believed that he was
better hearted than he was. He would not, in fact, have been wicked if
the Marechal d'Uxelles, La Chouin and Montespan, with whom he was in his
youth, as well as the Duchess, had not spoiled him, and made him believe
that malice was a proof of wit.
He did not grieve more than a quarter of an hour at the death of his
mother or of his wife; and when he wrapped himself up in his long
mourning cloak he was ready to choke with laughter.
He had followed his father's example in taking an ugly, nasty mistress,
who had been fille d'honneur to the elder Princess de Conti: her name is
Mademoiselle de Chouin, and she is still living at Paris (1719). It was
generally believed that he had married her clandestinely; but I would lay
a wager he never did. She had the figure of a duenna; was of very small
stature; had very short legs; large rolling eyes; a round face; a short
turned-up nose; a large mouth filled with decayed teeth, which made her
breath so bad that the room in which she sat could hardly be endured.
And yet this short, fat woman had a great deal of wit; and I believe the
Dauphin accustomed himself to take snuff that he might not be annoyed by
her bad teeth. He was very civil to the Marechal d'Uxelles, because he
pretended to be the intimate with this lady; but as soon as the Dauphin
was caught, the Marechal ceased to see her, and never once set foot in
her house, although before that he had been in the habit of visiting her
The Dauphin had a daughter by Raisin the actress, but he would never
acknowledge her, and after his death the Princess Conti took care of her,
and married her to a gentleman of Vaugourg. The Dauphin was so tired of
the Duc du Maine that he had sworn never to acknowledge any of his
illegitimate children. This Raisin must have had very peculiar charms to
make an impression upon a heart so thick as that of the Dauphin, who
really loved her. One day he sent for her to Choisy, and hid her in a
mill without anything to eat or drink; for it was a fast day, and the
Dauphin thought there was no greater sin than to eat meat on a fast day.
After the Court had departed, all that he gave her for supper was some
salad and toast with oil. Raisin laughed at this very much herself, and
told several persons of it. When I heard of it I asked the Dauphin what
he meant by making his mistress fast in this manner.
"I had a mind," he said, "to commit one sin, but not two."
I cannot bear that any one should touch me behind; it makes me so angry
that I do not know what I do. I was very near giving the Dauphin a blow
one day, for he had a wicked trick of coming behind one for a joke, and
putting his fist in the chair just where one was going to sit down. I
begged him, for God's sake, to leave off this habit, which was so
disagreeable to me that I would not answer for not one day giving him a
sound blow, without thinking of what I was doing. From that time he left
The Dauphin was very much like the Queen; he was not tall, but good-
looking enough. Our King was accustomed to say: "Monseigneur (for so he
always called him) has the look of a German prince." He had, indeed,
something of a German air; but it was only the air; for he had nothing
German besides. He did not dance well. The Queen-Dowager of Spain
flattered herself with the hope of marrying him.
He thought he should recommend himself to the King by not appearing to
care what became of his brothers.
When the Dauphin was lying sick of the small-pox, I went on the Wednesday
to the King.
He said to me, sarcastically, "You have been frightening us with the
great pain which Monseigneur would have to endure when the suppuration
commences; but I can tell you that he will not suffer at all, for the
pustules have already begun to dry."
I was alarmed at this, and said, "So much the worse; if he is not in pain
his state is the more dangerous, and he soon will be."
"What!" said the King, "do you know better than the doctors?"
"I know," I replied, "what the small-pox is by my own experience, which
is better than all the doctors; but I hope from my heart that I may be
On the same night, soon after midnight, the Dauphin died.
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, THE SECOND DAUPHIN.
He was quite humpbacked. I think this proceeded from his having been
made to carry a bar of iron for the purpose of keeping himself upright,
but the weight and inconvenience of which had had a contrary effect.
I often said to the Duke de Beauvilliers he had very good parts, and was
sincerely pious, but so weak as to let his wife rule him like a child.
In spite of his good sense, she made him believe whatever she chose.
She lived upon very good terms with him, but was not outrageously fond,
and did not love him better than many other persons; for the good
gentleman had a very disagreeable person, and his face was not the most
beautiful. I believe, however, she was touched with his great affection
for her; and indeed it would be impossible for a man to entertain a more
fervent passion than he did for his wife. Her wit was agreeable, and she
could be very pleasant when she chose: her gaiety dissipated the
melancholy which sometimes seized upon the devout Dauphin. Like almost
all humpbacked men, he had a great passion for women; but at the same
time was so pious that he feared he committed a grievous sin in looking
at any other than his own wife; and he was truly in love with her.
I saw him once, when a lady had told him that he had good eyes, squint
immediately that he might appear ugly. This was really an unnecessary
trouble; for the good man was already sufficiently plain, having a very
ill-looking mouth, a sickly appearance, small stature, and a hump at his
He had many good qualities: he was charitable, and had assisted several
officers unknown to any one. He certainly died of grief for the loss of
his wife, as he had predicted. A learned astrologer of Turin, having
cast the nativity of the Dauphine, told her that she would die in her
She often spoke of it, and said one day to her husband, "The time is
approaching when I shall die; you cannot remain without a wife as well on
account of your rank as your piety; tell me, then, I beg of you, whom you
"I hope," he replied, "that God will not inflict so severe a punishment
on me as to deprive me of you; but if this calamity should befall me, I
shall not marry again, for I shall follow you to the grave in a week."
This happened exactly as he said it would; for, on the seventh day after
his wife's death, he died also. This is not a fiction, but perfectly
While the Dauphine was in good health and spirits she often said, "I must
enjoy myself now. I shall not be able to do so long, for I shall die
I thought it was only a joke, but it turned out to be too true. When she
fell sick she said she should never recover.
A cautery which had been improperly made in the nape of the neck had
drawn her mouth all on one side, so that it was almost entirely in her
left cheek. For this reason talking was very painful to her, and she
said very little. It was necessary to be accustomed to her way of
speaking to understand her. Just when she was about to die her mouth
resumed its proper place, and she did not seem at all ugly. I was
present at her death. She did not say a word to her father, although a
convulsion had restored her mouth. The King, who had a good heart and
was very fond of his children, wept excessively and made me weep also.
The Queen was not present, for, being pregnant, they would not let her
It is totally false that the Queen was delivered of a black child. The
late Monsieur, who was present, said that the young Princess was ugly,
but not black. The people cannot be persuaded that the child is not still
alive, and say that it is in a convent at Moret, near Fontainebleau. It
is, however, quite certain that the ugly child is dead, for all the Court
saw it die.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Always has a fictitious malady in reserve
I had a mind, he said, to commit one sin, but not two
I wished the husband not to be informed of it
Provided they are talked of, they are satisfied
That what he called love was mere debauchery