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

Part 18 out of 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so the Council ended.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

M. le Duc d'Orleans was indignant, even terrified, little scrupulous as
he might be as to the choice of bishops, and in a tone of contempt
replied to Dubois, "What, you Archbishop of Cambrai!" making him thus
feel his low origin, and still more the debauchery and scandal of his
life. Dubois was, however, too far advanced to stop on the road, and
cited examples; unfortunately these were only too many.

M. le Duc d'Orleans, less touched by such bad reasoning than embarrassed
how to resist the ardor of a man whom for a long time he had not dated to
contradict, tried to get out of the difficulty, by saying, "But you being
such a scoundrel, where will you find another to consecrate you?"

"Oh, if it's only that!" exclaimed Dubois, "the thing is done. I know
very well who will consecrate me; he is not far from here."

"And who the devil is he who will dare to do so?" asked the Regent.

"Would you like to know?" replied the Abbe, "and does the matter rest
only upon that?"

"Well, who?" said the Regent.

"Your chief chaplain," replied Dubois, "who is close at hand. Nothing
will please him better; I will run and speak to him."

And thereupon he embraces the knees of M. le Duc d'Orleans (who, caught
thus in his own trap, had not the strength to refuse), runs to the Bishop
of Nantes, says that he is to have Cambrai, begs the Bishop to consecrate
him, and receives his promise to do so, returns, wheels round, tells M.
le Duc d'Orleans that his chief chaplain has agreed to the consecration;
thanks, praises, admires the Regent, fixes more and more firmly the
office by regarding it as settled, and by persuading M. le Duc d'Orleans,
who dares not say no; and in this manner was Dubois made Archbishop of

The extreme scandal of this nomination caused a strange, stir. Impudent
as was the Abbe Dubois, he was extremely embarrassed; and M. le Duc
d'Orleans so much ashamed, that it was soon remarked he was humbled if
you spoke to him upon the subject. The next question was, from whom
Dubois was to receive holy orders? The Cardinal de Noailles was applied
to, but he stoutly refused to assist in any way. It may be imagined what
an affront this was to Dubois. He never in his life pardoned the
Cardinal, who was nevertheless universally applauded for his refusal.
But the Abbe Dubois was not a man to be daunted by an ordinary obstacle;
he turned his glances elsewhere, and soon went through all the
formalities necessary.

The very day he took orders there was a Regency Council at the old
Louvre, because the measles, which were then very prevalent, even in the
Palais Royal, hindered us from meeting as usual in the Tuileries.
A Regency Council without the Abbe Dubois present was a thing to marvel
at, and yet his arrival to-day caused even more surprise than his absence
would have caused. But he was not a man to waste his time in
thanksgiving for what had just happened to him. This was a new scandal,
which revived and aggravated the first. Everybody had arrived in the
cabinet of the council, M. le Duc d'Orleans also; we were scattered about
and standing. I was in a corner of the lower end, when I saw Dubois
enter in a stout coat, with his ordinary bearing. We did not expect him
on such a day, and naturally enough cried out surprised. M. le Prince de
Conti, with his father's sneering manner, spoke to the Abbe Dubois, on
his appearance among us on the very day of taking orders, and expressed
his surprise at it with the most pathetic malignity imaginable.

Dubois, who had not had time to reply one word, let him say to the end;
then coldly observed, that if he had been a little more familiar with
ancient history, he would not have found what astonished him very
strange, since he (the Abbe) had only followed the example of Saint-
Ambrose, whose ordination he began to relate. I did not wait for his
recital; at the mere mention of Saint-Ambrose I flew to the other end of
the cabinet, horror-struck at the comparison Dubois had just made, and
fearing lest I should be tempted to say to him, that the ordination of
Saint-Ambrose had been forced upon him in spite of his resistance. This
impious citation of Saint-Ambrose ran all over the town with the effect
that may be imagined. The nomination and this ordination took place
towards the end of February.

I will finish at once all that relates to this matter, so as not to
separate it, or have to return to it. Dubois had his bulls at the
commencement of May, and the consecration was fixed for Sunday the 9th
of June. All Paris and the Court were invited to it, myself excepted.
I was on bad terms with Dubois, because I in no way spared him when with
M. le Duc d'Orleans. He on his side, fearing the power I had over the
Regent, the liberty I enjoyed with him, and the freedom with which I
spoke to him, did as much as he could to injure me, and to weaken the
confidence of M. le Duc d'Orleans in me. Dubois and I continued,
nevertheless, to be on good terms with each other in appearance, but it
was in appearance only.

This consecration was to be magnificent, and M. le Duc d'Orleans was to
be present at it. If the nomination and the ordination of the Abbe
Dubois had caused much stir, scandal, and horror, the superb preparations
for the consecration caused even more: Great was the indignation against
M. le Duc d'Orleans. I went, therefore, to him the evening before this
strange ceremony was to take place, to beg him not to attend it. I
represented to him that the nomination and ordination of the Abbe Dubois
had created frightful effect upon the public, and that the consecration
of a man of such low extraction, and whose manners and mode of life were
so notorious; would create more. I added, that if he attended this
ceremony, people would say it was simply for the purpose of mocking God,
and insulting His Church; that the effect of this would be terrible,
and always much to be feared; and that people would say the Abbe Dubois
abused the mastery he had over him, and that this was evidence of
dependence would draw down upon him hatred, disdain, and shame, the
results of which were to be dreaded. I concluded by saying, that I spoke
to him as his disinterested servitor; that his absence or his presence at
this consecration would change in, nothing the fortune of the Abbe
Dubois, who would be Archbishop of Cambrai all the same without
prostituting his master in the eyes of all France, and of all Europe,
by compelling him to be guilty of a measure to which it would be seen he
had been urged by force. I conjured him not to go; and to show him on
what terms I was with the Abbe Dubois, I explained to him I was the sole
man of rank he had not invited to his consecration; but that,
notwithstanding this circumstance, if he would give me his word that he
would not go, I on my side would agree to go, though my horror at doing
so would be very great.

My discourse, pronounced with warmth and developed with freedom, was
listened to from beginning to end. I was surprised to hear the Regent
say I was right, but I opened my eyes very wide when he embraced me, said
that I spoke like a true friend, and that he would give me his word, and
stick to it, he would not go. We parted upon this, I strengthening him
in his resolution, promising anew I would go, and he thanking me for this
effort. He showed no impatience, no desire that I should go; for I knew
him well, and I examined him to the very bottom of his soul, and quitted
him much pleased at having turned him from a measure so disgraceful arid
so extraordinary. Who could have guessed that he would not keep his
word? But so it happened.

Although as I have said I felt sure of him, yet the extreme weakness of
this prince, and the empire the Abbe Dubois had acquired over him;
induced me to be quite certain of him before going to the consecration.
I sent therefore the next morning to the Palais Royal to inquire after M.
le Duc d'Orleans; keeping my carriage all ready for a start. But I was
much confused, accustomed as I might be to his miserable vacillation, to
hear from the person I had sent, that he had just seen the Regent jump
into his coach, surrounded by all the pomp usual on grand occasions,
and set out for the consecration. I had my horses put up at once, and
locked myself into my cabinet.

A day or two after I learnt from a friend of Madame de Parabere, then the
reigning Sultana, but not a faithful one, that M. le Duc d'Orleans had
been with her the previous night, and had spoken to her in praise of me,
saying he would not go to the ceremony, and that he was very grateful to
me for having dissuaded him from going. La Parabere praised me, admitted
I was right, but her conclusion was that he would go.

M. le Duc d'Orleans, surprised, said to her she was then mad.

"Be it so," replied she, "but you will go."

"But I tell you I will not go," he rejoined.

"Yes, yes, I tell you," said she; "you will go."

"But," replied he, "this is admirable. You say M. de Saint-Simon is
quite right, why then should I go?"

"Because I wish it," said she.

"Very good," replied he, "and why do you wish I should go--what madness
is this?"

"I wish it because--," said she.

"Oh, because," replied he, "that's no reason; say why you wish it."

(After some dispute) "You obstinately desire then to know? Are you not
aware that the Abbe Dubois and I quarreled four days ago, and that we
have not yet made it up. He mixes in everything. He will know that you
have been with me to-night. If to-morrow you do not go to his
consecration, he will not fail to believe it is I who have hindered you;
nothing will take this idea out of his head; he will never pardon me;
he will undermine in a hundred ways my credit with you, and finish by
embroiling us. But I don't wish such a thing to happen, and for that
reason you must go to his consecration, although M. de Saint-Simon is

Thereupon ensued a feeble debate, then resolution and promise to go,
which was very faithfully kept.

As for me I could only deplore the feebleness of the Regent, to whom I
never afterwards spoke of this consecration, or he to me; but he was very
much ashamed of himself, and much embarrassed with me afterwards. I do
not know whether he carried his weakness so far as to tell Dubois what I
had said to hinder him from going to the ceremony or whether the Abbe was
told by La Parabere, who thought thus to take credit to herself for
having changed the determination of M. le Duc d'Orleans, and to show her
credit over him. But Dubois was perfectly informed of it, and never
pardoned me.

The Val de Grace was chosen for the consecration as being a royal
monastery, the most magnificent of Paris, and the most singular church.
It was superbly decorated; all France was invited, and nobody dared to
stop away or to be out of sight during the whole ceremony.

There were tribunes with blinds prepared for the ambassadors and
Protestant ministers. There was another more magnificent for M. le Duc
d'Orleans and M. le Duc de Chartres, whom he took there. There were
places for the ladies, and as M. le Duc d'Orleans entered by the
monastery, and his tribune was within, it was open to all comers, so that
outside and inside were filled with refreshments of all kinds, which
officers distributed in profusion. This disorder continued all day, on
account of the large number of tables that were served without and within
for the subordinate people of the fete and all who liked to thrust
themselves in. The chief gentlemen of the chamber of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and his chief officers did the business of the ceremony;
placed distinguished people in their seats, received them, conducted
them, and other of his officers paid similar attentions to less
considerable people, while, all the watch and all the police were
occupied in looking after the arrival and departure of the carriages
in proper and regular order.

During the consecration, which was but little decent as far as the
consecrated and the spectators were concerned, above all when leaving the
building, M. le Duc d'Orleans evinced his satisfaction at finding so many
considerable people present, and then went away to Asnieres to dine with
Madame Parabere--very glad that a ceremony was over upon which he had
bestowed only indirect attention, from the commencement to the end. All
the prelates, the distinguished Abbes, and a considerable number of the
laity, were invited during the consecration by the chief officers of M.
le Duc d'Orleans to dine at the Palais Royal. The same officers did the
honours of the feast, which was served with the most splendid abundance
and delicacy. There were two services of thirty covers each, in a large
room of the grand suite of apartments, filled with the most considerable
people of Paris, and several other tables equally well served in
adjoining rooms for people less distinguished. M. le Duc d'Orleans gave
to the new Archbishop a diamond of great price to serve him as ring.

All this day was given up to that sort of triumph which draws down
neither the approbation of man nor the blessing of God. I saw nothing of
it all, however, and M. le Duc d'Orleans and I never spoke of it.

The Comte de Horn had been in Paris for the last two months, leading an
obscure life of gaming and debauchery. He was a man of two-and-twenty,
tall and well made, of that ancient and grand family of Horn, known in
the eleventh century among the little dynasties of the Low Countries, and
afterwards by a long series of illustrious generations. The Comte de
Horn in question had been made captain in the Austrian army, less on
account of his youth than because he was such an ill-behaved dog, causing
vast trouble to his mother and brother. They heard so much of the
disorderly life he was leading in Paris, that they sent there a
confidential gentleman with money to pay his debts, to try and persuade
him to return, and failing in this, to implore the authority of the
Regent (to whom, through Madame, the Horns were related), in order to
compel him to do so. As ill-luck would have it, this gentleman arrived
the day after the Comte had committed the crime I am about to relate.

On Friday, the 22nd of March, 1720, he went to the Rue Quincampoix,
wishing, he said, to buy 100,000 ecus worth of shares, and for that
purpose made an appointment with a stockbroker in a cabaret. The stock-
broker came there with his pocket-book and his shares; the Comte de Horn
came also, accompanied, as he said, by two of his friends; a moment
after, they all three threw themselves upon this unfortunate stock-
broker; the Comte de Horn stabbed him several times with a poniard, and
seized his pocket-book; one of his pretended friends (a Piedmontese named
Mille), seeing that the stock-broker was not dead, finished the work.
At the noise they made the people of the house came, not sufficiently
quick to prevent the murder, but in time to render themselves masters of
the assassins, and to arrest them. In the midst of the scuffle, the
other cut-throat escaped, but the Comte de Horn and Mille were not so
fortunate. The cabaret people sent for the officers of justice, who
conducted the criminals to the Conciergerie. This horrible crime,
committed in broad daylight, immediately made an immense stir, and
several kinsmen of this illustrious family at once went to M. le Duc
d'Orleans to beg for mercy; but the Regent avoided speaking to them as
much as possible, and very rightly ordered full and prompt justice to be

At last, the relatives of Horn penetrated to the Regent: they tried to
make the Count pass for mad, saying even that he had an uncle confined in
an asylum, and begging that he might be confined also. But the reply
was, that madmen who carried their madness to fury could not be got rid
of too quickly. Repulsed in this manner, they represented what an infamy
it would be to their illustrious family, related to nearly all the
sovereigns of Europe, to have one of its members tried and condemned.
M. le Duc d'Orleans replied that the infamy was in the crime, and not in
the punishment. They pressed him upon the honour the family had in being
related to him. "Very well, gentlemen," said he, "I will divide the
shame with you."

The trial was neither long nor difficult. Law and the Abbe Dubois, so
interested in the safety of the stock-jobbers (without whom the paper
must have fallen at once), supported M. le Duc d'Orleans might and main,
in order to render him inexorable, and he, to avoid the persecutions he
unceasingly experienced on the other side, left nothing undone in order
to hurry the Parliament into a decision; the affair, therefore; went full
speed, and it seemed likely that the Comte de Horn would be broken on the

The relatives, no longer hoping to save the criminal, thought only of
obtaining a commutation of the sentence. Some of them came to me, asking
me to save them: though I was not related to the Horn family, they
explained to me, that death on the wheel would throw into despair all
that family, and everybody connected with it in the Low Countries,
and in Germany, because in those parts there was a great and important
difference between the punishments of persons of quality who had
committed crimes; that decapitation in no way influenced the family of
the decapitated, but that death on the wheel threw such infamy upon it,
that the uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters, and the three next
generations, were excluded from entering into any noble chapter, which,
in addition to the shame, was a very injurious deprivation, annihilating
the family's chance of ecclesiastic preferment; this reason touched me,
and I promised to do my best with M. le Duc d'Orleans to obtain a
commutation of the sentence.

I was going off to La Ferme to profit by the leisure of Holy Week.
I went therefore to M. le Duc d'Orleans, and explained to him what I had
just learnt. I said that after the detestable crime the Comte de Horn
had committed, every one must feel that he was worthy of death; but that
every one could not admit it was necessary to break him on the wheel, in
order to satisfy the ends of justice. I showed him how the family would
suffer if this sentence were carried out, and I concluded by proposing to
the Regent a 'mezzo termine', such as he was so fond of.

I suggested that the decree ordering death by the wheel should be
pronounced. That another decree should at the same time be prepared and
kept ready signed and sealed, with only a date to fill in, revoking the
first, and changing the punishment into decapitation. That at the last
moment this second decree should be produced, and immediately afterwards
the head of the Comte de Horn be cut off. M. le Duc d'Orleans offered no
objection, but consented at once to my plan. I said to him, by way of
conclusion, that I was going to set out the next day, and that I begged
him not to be shaken in the determination he had just formed, by the
entreaties of Dubois or Law, both of whom were strongly in favour of
punishment by the wheel. He assured me he would keep firm; reiterated
the assurance; I took leave of him; and the next day went to La Ferme.

He was firm, however, in his usual manner. Dubois and Law besieged him,
and led the attack so well that he gave in, and the first thing I learnt
at La Ferme was that the Comte de Horn had been broken alive on the wheel
at the Greve, on Holy Friday; the 26th March, 1720, about 4 o'clock in
the afternoon, and the scoundrel Mille with him on the same scaffold,
after having both suffered torture.

The result of this was as I anticipated. The Horn family and all the
grand nobility of the Low Countries, many of Germany, were outraged, and
contained themselves neither in words nor in writings. Some of them even
talked of strange vengeance, and a long time after the death of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, I met with certain of the gentlemen upon whose hearts the
memory of this punishment still weighed heavily.


A cardinal may be poisoned, stabbed, got rid of altogether
Enriched one at the expense of the other
Few would be enriched at the expense of the many
I abhorred to gain at the expense of others
Juggle, which put the wealth of Peter into the pockets of Paul
Not allowing ecclesiastics to meddle with public affairs
People with difficulty believe what they have seen
Rome must be infallible, or she is nothing





Quarrel of the King of England with His Son.--Schemes of Dubois.--
Marriage of Brissac.--His Death.--Birth of the Young Pretender.--
Cardinalate of Dubois.--Illness of the King.--His Convalescence.--
A Wonderful Lesson.--Prudence of the Regent.--Insinuations against Him.


Projected Marriages of the King and of the Daughter of the Duc d'Orleans_
--How It Was Communicated to Me.--I Ask for the Embassy to Spain.--It Is
Granted to Me.--Jealousy of Dubois.--His Petty Interference.--
Announcement of the Marriages.


Interview with Dubois.--His Singular Instructions to Ale.--His Insidious
Object.--Various Tricks and Manoeuvres.--My Departure for Spain.--Journey
by Way of Bordeaux and Bayonne.--Reception in Spain.--Arrival at Madrid.


Interview in the Hall of Mirrors.--Preliminaries of the Marriages.--
Grimaldo.--How the Question of Precedence Was Settled.--I Ask for an
Audience.--Splendid Illuminations.--A Ball.--I Am Forced to Dance.


Mademoiselle de Montpensier Sets out for Spain.--I Carry the News to the
King.--Set out for Lerma.--Stay at the Escurial.--Take the Small--pox.--


Mode of Life of Their Catholic Majesties.--Their Night.--Morning.--
Toilette.--Character of Philippe V.--And of His Queen.--How She Governed


The King's Taste for Hunting.--Preparations for a Battue.--Dull Work.--
My Plans to Obtain the Grandesse.--Treachery of Dubois.--Friendship of
Grimaldo.--My Success.


Marriage of the Prince of the Asturias.--An Ignorant Cardinal.--I Am Made
Grandee of Spain.--The Vidame de Chartres Named Chevalier of the Golden
Fleece.--His Reception--My Adieux.--A Belching Princess.--
Return to France.


For a long time a species of war had been declared between the King of
England and his son, the Prince of Wales, which had caused much scandal;
and which had enlisted the Court on one side, and made much stir in the
Parliament. George had more than once broken out with indecency against
his son; he had long since driven him from the palace, and would not see
him. He had so cut down his income that he could scarcely subsist. The
father never could endure this son, because he did not believe him to be
his own. He had more than suspected the Duchess, his wife, to be in
relations with Count Konigsmarck. He surprised him one morning leaving
her chamber; threw him into a hot oven, and shut up his wife in a chateau
for the rest of her days. The Prince of Wales, who found himself ill-
treated for a cause of which he was personally innocent, had always borne
with impatience the presence of his mother and the aversion of his
father. The Princess of Wales, who had much sense, intelligence, grace,
and art, had softened things as much as possible; and the King was unable
to refuse her his esteem, or avoid loving her. She had conciliated all
England; and her Court, always large, boasted of the presence of the most
accredited and the most distinguished persons. The Prince of Wales
feeling his strength, no longer studied his father, and blamed the
ministers with words that at least alarmed them. They feared the credit
of the Princess of Wales; feared lest they should be attacked by the
Parliament, which often indulges in this pleasure. These considerations
became more and more pressing as they discovered what was brewing against
them; plans such as would necessarily have rebounded upon the King. They
communicated their fears to him, and indeed tried to make it up with his
son, on certain conditions, through the medium of the Princess of Wales,
who, on her side, felt all the consciousness of sustaining a party
against the King, and who always had sincerely desired peace in the royal
family. She profited by this conjuncture; made use of the ascendency she
had over her husband, and the reconciliation was concluded. The King
gave a large sum to the Prince of Wales, and consented to see him. The
ministers were saved, and all appeared forgotten.

The excess to which things had been carried between father and son had
not only kept the entire nation attentive to the intestine disorders
ready to arise, but had made a great stir all over Europe; each power
tried to blow this fire into a blaze, or to stifle it according as
interest suggested. The Archbishop of Cambrai, whom I shall continue to
call the Abbe Dubois, was just then very anxiously looking out for his
cardinal's hat, which he was to obtain through the favour of England,
acting upon that of the Emperor with the Court of Rome. Dubois,
overjoyed at the reconciliation which had taken place, wished to show
this in a striking manner, in order to pay his court to the King of
England. He named, therefore, the Duc de la Force to go to England, and
compliment King George on the happy event that had occurred.

The demonstration of joy that had been resolved on in France was soon
known in England. George, annoyed by the stir that his domestic
squabbles had made throughout all Europe, did not wish to see it
prolonged by the sensation that this solemn envoy would cause. He begged
the Regent, therefore, not to send him one. As the scheme had been
determined on only order to please him, the journey of the Duc de la
Force was abandoned almost as soon as declared. Dubois had the double
credit, with the King of England, of having arranged this demonstration
of joy, and of giving it up; in both cases solely for the purpose of
pleasing his Britannic Majesty.

Towards the end of this year, 1720, the Duc de Brissac married Mlle.
Pecoil, a very rich heiress, whose father was a 'maitre des requetes',
and whose mother was daughter of Le Gendre, a very wealthy merchant of
Rouen. The father of Mlle. Pecoil was a citizen of Lyons, a wholesale
dealer, and extremely avaricious. He had a large iron safe, or strong-
box, filled with money, in a cellar, shut in by an iron door, with a
secret lock, and to arrive at which other doors had to be passed through.
He disappeared so long one day, that his wife and two or three valets or
servants that he had sought him everywhere. They well knew that he had a
hiding-place, because they had sometimes seen him descending into his
cellar, flat-candlestick in hand, but no one had ever dared to follow

Wondering what had become of him, they descended to the cellar, broke
open the doors, and found at last the iron one. They were obliged to
send for workmen to break it open, by attacking the wall in which it was
fixed. After much labour they entered, and found the old miser dead in
his strong-box, the secret spring of which he had apparently not been
able to find, after having locked himself in; a horrible end in every

The Brissacs have not been very particular in their alliances for some
time, and yet appear no richer. The gold flies away; the dross remains.

I had almost forgotten to say that in the last day of this year, 1720, a
Prince of Wales was born at Rome.

The Prince was immediately baptised by the Bishop; of Montefiascone, and
named Charles. The event caused a great stir in the Holy City. The Pope
sent his compliments to their Britannic Majesties, and forwarded to the
King of England (the Pretender) 10,000 Roman crowns, gave him, for his
life, a country house at Albano, which until then, he had only lent him,
and 2000 crowns to furnish it. A Te Deum was sung in the chapel of the
Pope, in his presence, and there were rejoicings at Rome. When the Queen
of England was able to see company, Cardinal Tanora came in state, as
representative of the Sacred College, to congratulate her.

The birth of the Prince also made much stir at the Court of England, and
among the priests and Jacobites of that country. For very different
reasons, not only the Catholics and Protestants, enemies of the
government, were ravished at it, but nearly all the three realms showed
as much joy as they dared; not from any attachment to the dethroned
house, but for the satisfaction of seeing a line continue with which they
could always menace and oppose their kings and the royal family.

In France we were afraid to show any public feeling upon the event. We
were too much in the hands of England; the Regent and Dubois too much the
humble servants of the house of Hanover; Dubois especially, waiting, as
he was, so anxiously for his cardinal's hat. He did not, as will be
seen, have to wait much longer.

The new Pope had given, in writing, a promise to Dubois, that if elected
to the chair of St. Peter he would make him cardinal. Time had flown,
and the promise was not yet fulfilled. The impatience of Dubois
increased with his hopes, and gave him no repose. He was much bewildered
when he learnt that, on the 16th of June, 1721, the Pope had elevated to
the cardinalship; his brother, who for ten years had been Bishop of
Terracine and Benedictine monk of Mount Cassini. Dubois had expected
that no promotion would be made in which he was not included. But here
was a promotion of a single person only. He was furious; this fury did
not last long, however; a month after, that is to say, on the 16th of
July, the Pope made him cardinal with Dion Alexander Alboni, nephew of
the deceased Pope, and brother of the Cardinal Camarlingue.

Dubois received the news and the compliment that followed with extreme
joy, but managed to contain himself with some little decency, and to give
all the honour of his nomination to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, sooth to
say, had had scarcely anything to do with it. But he could not prevent
himself from saying to everybody that what honoured him more than the
Roman purple was the unanimous eagerness of all the European powers to
procure him this distinction; to press the Pope to award it; to desire
that his promotion would be hastened without waiting for their
nominations. He incessantly blew these reports about everywhere without
ever being out of breath; but nobody was the dupe of them.

Shortly after this, that is, on the last day of July, the King, who had
until then been in perfect health, woke with headache and pain in the
throat; shivering followed, and towards afternoon, the pains in the head
and throat being augmented, he went to bed. I repaired the next day
about twelve to inquire after him. I found he had passed a bad night,
and that within the last two hours he had grown worse. I saw everywhere
consternation. I had the grandes entrees, therefore I went into his
chamber. I found it very empty. M. le Duc d'Orleans, seated in the
chimney corner, looked exceedingly downcast and solitary. I approached
him for a moment, then I went to the King's bed. At this moment Boulduc,
one of the apothecaries, gave him something to take. The Duchesse de la
Ferme, who, through the Duchesse de Ventadour, her sister, had all the
entrees as godmother to the King, was at the heels of Boulduc, and
turning round to see who was approaching, saw me, and immediately said in
a tone neither high nor low, "He is poisoned! he is poisoned!"

"Hold your tongue, Madame," said I. "This is terrible."

But she kept on, and spoke so loudly that I feared the King would hear
her. Boulduc and I looked at each other, and I immediately withdrew from
the bed and from this mad woman, with whom I was in no way familiar.
During this illness, which lasted only five days (but of which the first
three were violent) I was much troubled, but at the same time I was
exceedingly glad that I had refused to be the King's governor, though the
Regent had over and over again pressed me to accept the office. There
were too many evil reports in circulation against M. le Duc d'Orleans for
me to dream of filling this position. For was I not his bosom friend
known to have been on the most intimate terms with him ever since his
child hood--and if anything had happened to excite new suspicions against
him, what would not have been said? The thought of this so troubled me
during the King's illness, that I used to wake in the night with a start,
and, oh, what joy was mine when I remembered that I had not this duty on
my head!

The malady, as I have said, was not long, and the convalescence was
prompt, which restored tranquillity and joy, and caused an overflow of Te
Deums and rejoicing. Helvetius had all the honour of the cure; the
doctors had lost their heads, he preserved his, and obstinately proposed
bleeding at the foot, at a consultation at which M. le Duc d'Orleans was
present; his advice prevailed, change for the better immediately took
place, cure soon after.

The Marechal de Villeroy (the King's governor) did not let slip this
occasion for showing all his venom and his baseness; he forgot nothing,
left nothing undone in order to fix suspicion upon M. le Duc d'Orleans,
and thus pay his court to the robe. No magistrate, however unimportant,
could come to the Tuileries whom he did not himself go to with the news
of the King and caresses; whilst to the first nobles he was inaccessible.
The magistrates of higher standing he allowed to enter at all times into
the King's chamber, even to stand by his bed in order to see him, while
they who had the 'grandes entrees' with difficulty enjoyed a similar

He did the same during the first days of convalescence, which he
prolonged as much as possible, in order to give the same distinction to
the magistrates, come at what time they might, and privately to the great
people of the Court and the ambassadors. He fancied himself a tribune of
the people, and aspired to their favour and their dangerous power. From
this he turned to other affectations which had the same aim against M. le
Duc d'Orleans. He multiplied the Te Deums that he induced the various
ranks of petty officers of the King to have sung on different days and in
different churches; he attended all, took with him as many people as he
could, and for six weeks continued this game. A Te Deum was sung in
every church in Paris. He spoke of nothing else, and above the real joy
he felt at the King's recovery, he put on a false one which had a party
smell about it, and which avowed designs not to be mistaken.

The King went in state to Notre Dame and Saint Genevieve to thank God.
These mummeries, thus prolonged, extended to the end of August and the
fete Saint-Louis. Each year there, is on that day a concert in the
garden. The Marechal de Villeroy took care that on this occasion, the
concert should become a species of fete, to which he added a display of
fireworks. Less than this would have been enough to draw the crowd.
It was so great that a pin could not have fallen to the ground through
the mass of people wedged against each other in the garden. The windows
of the Tuileries were ornamented, and were filled with people. All the
roofs of the Carrousel, as well as the Place, were covered with

The Marechal de Villeroy was in; his element, and importuned the King,
who tried to hide himself in the corners at every moment. The Marechal
took him by the arm, and led him, now to the windows where he could see
the Carrousel, and the houses covered with people; now to those which
looked upon the garden, full of the innumerable crowd waiting for the
fete. Everybody cried 'Vive le Roi!' when he appeared, but had not the
Marechal detained him, he would have run away and hid himself.

"Look, my master," the Marechal would say, "all that crowd, all these
people are yours, all belong to you; you are the master of them: look at
them a little therefore, to please them, for they are all yours, they are
all devoted to you."

A nice lesson this for a governor to give to a young King, repeating it
every time he leads him to the windows, so fearful is he lest the boy-
sovereign shall forget it! I do not know whether he received similar
lessons from those who had the charge of his education. At last the
Marechal led him upon the terrace, where, beneath a dais, he heard the
end of the concert, and afterwards saw the fireworks. The lesson of the
Marechal de Villeroy, so often and so publicly repeated, made much stir,
and threw but little honour upon him. He himself experienced the first
effect of is fine instruction.

M. le Duc d'Orleans conducted himself in a manner simple, so prudent,
that he infinitely gained by it. His cares and his reasonable anxiety
were measured; there was much reserve in his conversation, an exact and
sustained attention in his language, and in his countenance, which
allowed nothing to escape him, and which showed as little as possible
that he was the successor to the crown; above all, he never gave cause
for people to believe that he thought the King's illness more or less
serious than it was, or that his hopes were stronger than his fears.

He could not but feel that in a conjuncture so critical, all eyes were
fixed upon him, and as in truth he never wished for the crown (however
unlikely the statement may seem), he had no need to constrain himself in
any way, but simply to be measured in his bearing. His conduct was, in
fact, much remarked, and the cabal opposed to him entirely reduced to
silence. Nobody spoke to him upon the event that might happen, not even
his most familiar friends and acquaintances, myself included; and at this
he was much pleased. He acted entirely upon the suggestions of his own
good sense.

This was not the first time, let me add, that the Marechal de Villeroy,
in his capacity of governor of the King, had tacitly insulted M. le Duc
d'Orleans. He always, in fact, affected, in the discharge of his duties,
a degree of care, vigilance, and scrutiny, the object of which was
evident. He was particularly watchful of the food of the King, taking it
up with his own hands, and making a great show of this precaution; as
though the King could not have been poisoned a thousand times over in
spite of such ridiculous care. 'Twas because M. le Duc d'Orleans was
vexed with this childish behaviour, so calculated to do him great injury,
that he wished me to supersede the Marechal de Villeroy as governor of
the King. This, as before said, I would never consent to. As for the
Marechal, his absurdities met with their just reward, but at a date I
have not yet come to.


Before this illness of the King, that is to say, at the commencement of
June, I went one day to work with M, le Duc d'Orleans, and found him
alone, walking up arid down the grand apartment.

"Holloa! there," said he, as soon as he saw me; then, taking me by the
hand, "I cannot leave you in ignorance of a thing which I desire above
all others, which is of the utmost importance to me, and which will cause
you as much joy as me; but you must keep it profoundly secret." Then
bursting out laughing, "If M. de Cambrai knew that I had told it to you,
he would never pardon me." And he proceeded to state that perfect
reconciliation had been established between himself and the King and
Queen of Spain; that arrangements had been made by which our young King
was to marry the Infanta of Spain, as soon as he should be old enough;
and the Prince of the Asturias (the heir to the Spanish throne) was to
marry Mademoiselle de Chartres, the Regent's daughter.

If my joy at this was great, my astonishment was even greater; M. le Duc
d'Orleans embraced me, and the first surprise over, I asked him how he
had contrived to bring about these marriages; above all, that of his
daughter. He replied that it had all been done in a trice by the Abbe
Dubois, who was a regular devil when once he had set his mind upon
anything; that the King of Spain had been transported at the idea of the
King of France marrying the Infanta; and that the marriage of the Prince
of the Asturias had been the 'sine qua non' of the other.

After we had well talked over the matter and rejoiced thereon, I said to
the Regent that the proposed marriage of his daughter must be kept
profoundly secret until the moment of her departure for Spain; and that
of the King also, until the time for their execution arrived; so as to
prevent the jealousy of all Europe. At this union, so grand and so
intimate, of the two branches of the royal family, such a union having
always been the terror of Europe and disunion the object of all its
policy--this policy having only too well succeeded--I urged that the
sovereigns must be left as long as possible in the confidence they had
acquired, the Infanta above all, being but three years old (she was born
at Madrid on the morning of the 30th of March, 1718), by which means the
fears of Europe upon the marriage of Mademoiselle de Chartres with the
Prince of the Asturias would be coloured--the Prince could wait, he
having been born in August, 1707, and being accordingly only fourteen
years of age. "You are quite right," replied M. le Duc d'Orleans, "but
this can't be, because in Spain they wish to make public the declarations
of marriage at once, indeed, as soon as the demand is made and the
declaration can be signed."

"What madness!" cried I; "what end can this tocsin have except to arouse
all Europe and put it in movement! They must be made to understand this,
and we must stick to it; nothing is so important."

"All this is true," said M. le Duc d'Orleans. "I think exactly like you,
but they are obstinate in Spain; they have wished matters to be arranged
thus, and their wishes have been agreed to. Everything is arranged,
fixed, finished. I am so much interested in the matter that you surely
would not have advised me to break off for this condition."

I said of course not, shrugging my shoulders at his unseasonable

During the discussion which followed, I did not forget to think of
myself, the occasion being so opportune for making the fortunes of my
second son. I remembered then, that as matters were advanced to this
point, a special ambassador must be sent to Spain, to ask the hand of the
Infanta for the King, and to sign the compact of marriage; that the
ambassador must be a nobleman of mark and title, and thus I begged the
Duke to give me this commission, with a recommendation to the King of
Spain, so as to make my second son, the Marquis of Ruffec, grandee of

M. le Duc d'Orleans scarcely allowed me to finish, immediately accorded
me what I had asked, promised me the recommendation with many expressions
of friendship, and asked me to keep the whole matter secret, and make no
preparation that would disclose it.

I knew well enough why he enjoined me to secrecy. He wished to have the
time to make Dubois swallow this pill. My thanks expressed, I asked him
two favours; first, not to pay me as an ambassador, but to give me a
round sum sufficient to provide for all my expenses without ruining
myself; second, not to entrust any business to me which might necessitate
a long stay in Spain, inasmuch as I did not wish to quit him, and wanted
to go to Spain simply for the purpose of obtaining the honour above
alluded to for my second son. The fact is, I feared that Dubois, not
being able to hinder my embassy, might keep me in Spain in a sort of
exile, under pretence of business, in order to get rid of me altogether.

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