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

Part 12 out of 20

It was suspected that she thought of becoming something more than the
mere companion of the King. There were several princes. Reports were
spread which appeared equivocal and which terrified. It was said that
the King had no need of posterity, with all the children it had pleased
God to bless him with; but now he only needed a wife who could take
charge of those children. Not content with passing all her days with the
King, and allowing him, like the deceased Queen, to work with his
ministers only in her presence, the Princesse des Ursins felt that to
render this habit lasting she must assure herself of him at all moments.
He was accustomed to take the air, and he was in want of it all the more
now because he had been much shut up during the last days of the Queen's
illness, and the first which followed her death. Madame des Ursins chose
four or five gentlemen to accompany him, to the exclusion of all others,
even his chief officers, and people still more necessary. These
gentlemen charged with the amusement of the King, were called
recreadores. With so much circumspection, importunity, preparation, and
rumour carefully circulated, it was not doubted that Madame des Ursins
intended to marry him; and the opinion, as well as the fear, became
general. The King (Louis XIV.), was infinitely alarmed; and Madame de
Maintenon, who had twice tried to be proclaimed Queen and twice failed,
was distracted with jealousy. However, if Madame des Ursins flattered
herself then, it was not for long.

The King of Spain, always curious to learn the news from France, often
demanded them of his confessor, the only man to whom he could speak who
was not under the thumb of Madame des Ursins. The clever and courageous
Robinet, as disturbed as others at the progress of the design, which
nobody in the two Courts of France and Spain doubted was in execution,
allowed himself to be pressed by questions--in an embrasure where the
King had drawn him--played the reserved and the mysterious in order to
excite curiosity more. When he saw it was sufficiently excited, he said
that since he was forced to speak, his news from France was the same as
that at Madrid, where no one doubted that the King would do the Princesse
des Ursins the honour to espouse her. The King blushed and hastily
replied, "Marry her! oh no! not that!" and quitted him.

Whether the Princesse des Ursins was informed of this sharp repartee, or
whether she despaired already of success, she changed about; and judging
that this interregnum in the Palace of Medina-Celi could not last for
ever, resolved to assure herself of the King by a Queen who should owe to
her such a grand marriage, and who, having no other support, would throw
herself into her arms by gratitude and necessity. With this view she
explained herself to Alberoni, who, since the death of the Duc de
Vendome, had remained at Madrid charged with the affairs of Parma; and
proposed to him the marriage of the Princess of Parma, daughter of the
Duchess and of the late Duke of Parma, who had married the widow of his

Alberoni could with difficulty believe his ears. An alliance so
disproportioned appeared to him so much the more incredible, because he
thought the. Court of France would never consent to it, and that without
its consent the marriage could not be concluded. The Princess in
question was the issue of double illegitimacy; by her father descended
from a pope, by her mother from a natural daughter of Charles Quint. She
was daughter of a petty Duke of Parma, and of a mother, entirely
Austrian, sister of the Dowager Empress and of the Dowager Queen of Spain
(whose acts had excited such disapproval that she was sent from her exile
at Toledo to Bayonne), sister too of the Queen of Portugal, who had
induced the King, her husband, to receive the Archduke at Lisbon, and to
carry the war into Spain. It did not seem reasonable, therefore, that
such a Princess would be accepted as a wife for the King of Spain.

Nothing of all this, however, stopped the Princesse des Ursins; her own
interest was the most pressing consideration with her; the will of the
King of Spain was entirely subject to her; she felt all the change
towards her of our King and of Madame de Maintenon; she no longer hoped
for a return of their favour; she believed that she must look around for
support against the very authority which had established her so
powerfully, and which could destroy her; and occupied herself solely in
pushing forward a marriage from which she expected everything by making
the same use of the new queen as she had made of the one just dead. The
King of Spain was devout, he absolutely wanted a wife, the Princesse des
Ursins was of an age when her charms were but the charms, of art; in a
word, she set Alberoni to work, and it may be believed she was not
scrupulous as to her means as soon as they were persuaded at Parma that
she was serious and not joking. Orry, always united with Madame des
Ursins, and all-powerful, by her means, was her sole confidant in this
important affair.

At that time the Marquis de Brancas was French ambassador at Madrid. He
had flattered himself that Madame des Ursins would make him one of the
grandees of Spain. Instead of doing so she simply bestowed upon him the
order of the Golden Fleece. He had never pardoned her for this.
Entirely devoted to Madame de Maintenon, he became on that very account
an object of suspicion to Madame des Ursins, who did not doubt that he
cherished a grudge against her, on account of the favour he had missed.
She allowed him no access to her, and had her eyes open upon all he did.
Brancas in like manner watched all her doings. The confessor, Robinet,
confided to him his fears respecting Madame des Ursins, and the chiefs of
a court universally discontented went and opened their hearts to him,
thinking it was France alone which could set to rights the situation of

Brancas appreciated all the importance of what was told him, but warned
by the fate of the Abbe d'Estrees, fearing even for his couriers, he took
the precaution of sending word to the King that he had pressing business
to acquaint him with, which he could not trust to paper, and that he
wished to be allowed to come to Versailles for a fortnight. The reply
was the permission asked for, accompanied, however, with an order to
communicate en route with the Duc de Berwick, who was about to pass to

Madame des Ursins, who always found means to be informed of everything,
immediately knew of Brancas's projected journey, and determined to get
the start of him. At once she had sixteen relays of mules provided upon
the Bayonne road, and suddenly sent off to France, on Holy Thursday,
Cardinal del Giudice, grand inquisitor and minister of state, who had
this mean complaisance for her. She thus struck two blows at once; she
got rid, at least for a time, of a Cardinal minister who troubled her,
and anticipated Brancas, which in our Court was no small point.

Brancas, who felt all the importance of arriving first, followed the
Cardinal on Good Friday, and moved so well that he overtook him at
Bayonne, at night while he was asleep; Brancas passed straight on,
charging the Commandant to amuse and to delay the Cardinal as long as
possible on the morrow; gained ground, and arrived at Bordeaux with
twenty-eight post-horses that he had carried off with him from various
stations, to keep them from the Cardinal. He arrived in Paris in this
manner two days before the other, and went straight to Marly where the
King was, to explain the business that had led him there. He had a long
audience with the King, and received a lodging for the rest of the visit.

The Cardinal del Giudice rested four or five days at Paris, and then came
to Marly, where he was introduced to the King. The Cardinal was somewhat
embarrassed; he was charged with no business; all his mission was to
praise Madame des Ursins, and complain of the Marquis de Brancas. These
praises of Madame des Ursins were but vague; she had not sufficient
confidence in the Cardinal to admit to him her real position in our
Court, and to give him instructions accordingly, so that what he had to
say was soon all said; against the Marquis de Brancas he had really no
fact to allege, his sole crime that he was too sharp-sighted and not
sufficiently devoted to the Princess.

The Cardinal was a courtier, a man of talent, of business, of intrigue,
who felt, with annoyance, that for a person of his condition and weight,
such a commission as he bore was very empty. He appeared exceedingly
agreeable in conversation, of pleasant manners, and was much liked in
good society. He was assiduous in his attentions to the King, without
importuning him for audiences that were unnecessary; and by all his
conduct, he gave reason for believing that he suspected Madame des
Ursins' decadence in our Court, and sought to gain esteem and confidence,
so as to become by the support of the King, prime minister in Spain; but
as we shall soon see, his ultramontane hobbies hindered the
accomplishment of his measures. All the success of his journey consisted
in hindering Brancas from returning to Spain. This was no great
punishment, for Brancas had nothing more to hope for from Madame des
Ursins, and was not a man to lose his time for nothing.

Up to this period not a word had been said to the King (Louis XIV.) by
the King of Spain upon the subject of his marriage; not a hint had been
given that he meant to remarry, much less with a Parma princess. This
proceeding, grafted upon the sovereignty claimed by the Princesse des
Ursine, and all her conduct with the King of Spain since the death of the
Queen, resolved our King to disgrace her without appeal.

A remark upon Madame des Ursins, accompanied by a smile, escaped from the
King, generally so complete a master of himself, and appeared enigmatical
to such an extent, although striking, that Torcy, to wham it was
addressed, understood nothing. In his surprise, he related to Castries
what the King had said; Castries told it to Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans,
who reported it to M. d'Orleans and to me. We racked our brains to
comprehend it, but in vain; nevertheless such an unintelligible remark
upon a person like Madame des Ursins, who up to this time had been on
such good terms with the King and Madame de Maintenon, did not appear to
me to be favourable. I was confirmed in this view by what had just
happened with regard to her sovereignty; but I was a thousand leagues
from the thunderbolt which this lightning announced, and which only
declared itself to us by its fall.

It wits not until the 27th of June that the King was made acquainted by
the King of Spain with his approaching marriage. Of course, through
other channels, he had not failed to hear of it long before. He passed
in the lightest and gentlest manner in the world over this project, and
the mystery so long and so complete! with which it had been kept from
him, stranger, if possible, than the marriage itself. He could not
hinder it; but from this moment he was sure of his vengeance against her
who had arranged and brought it about in this manner. The disgrace of
Madame des Ursine was in fact determined on between the King and Madame
de Maintenon, but in a manner a secret before and since, that I know
nobody who has found out by whom or how it was carried out. It is good
to admit our ignorance, and not to give fictions and inventions in place
of what we are unacquainted with.

I know not why, but a short time after this, the Princesse des Ursine
conceived such strong suspicion of the lofty and enterprising spirit of
the Princess of Parma that she repented having made this marriage; and
wished to break it off. She brought forward; therefore, I know not what
difficulties, and despatched a courier to Rome to Cardinal Acquaviva, who
did the King of Spain's business there, ordering him to delay his journey
to Parma, where he had been commanded to ask the hand of the Princess,
and to see her provisionally espoused. But Madame des Ursins
had changed her mind too late. The courier did not find Acquaviva at
Rome. That Cardinal was already far away on the road to Parma, so that
there were no means of retreat.

Acquaviva was received with great honour and much magnificence; he made
his demand, but delayed the espousals as long as he could, and this
caused much remark. The marriage, which was to have been celebrated on
the 25th of August, did not take place until the 15th of September.
Immediately after the ceremony the new Queen set out for Spain.

An envoy from Parma, with news of the marriage of the Princess, arrived
at Fontainebleau on the 11th October, and had an audience with the King.
This was rather late in the day: For dowry she had one hundred thousand
pistoles, and three hundred thousand livres' worth of jewels. She had
embarked for Alicante at Sestri di Levante. A violent tempest sickened
her of the sea. She landed, therefore, at Monaco, in order to traverse
by land Provence, Languedoc, and Guienne, so as to reach Bayonne, and see
there the Queen Dowager of Spain; sister of her mother, and widow of
Charles II. Desgranges, master of the ceremonies, was to meet her in
Provence, with orders to follow her, and to command the governors,
lieutenants-general, and intendants to follow her also, and serve her,
though she travelled incognito.

The new Queen of Spain, on arriving at Pau, found the Queen Dowager, her
aunt, had come expressly from Bayonne to meet her. As they approached
each other, they both descended at the same time, and after saluting,
mounted alone into a beautiful caleche that the Queen Dowager had brought
with her, and that she presented to her niece. They supped together
alone. The Queen Dowager conducted her to Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port (for
in that country, as in Spain, the entrances to mountain passes are called
ports). They separated there, the Queen Dowager making the Queen many
presents, among others a garniture of diamonds. The Duc de Saint-Aignan
joined the Queen of Spain at Pau, and accompanied her by command of the
King to Madrid. She sent Grillo, a Genoese noble, whom she has since
made grandee of Spain, to thank the King for sending her the Duc de
Saint-Aignan, and for the present he brought with him. The officers of
her household had been named by Madame des Ursins.

The Queen of Spain advanced towards Madrid with the attendants sent to
accompany her. She was to be met by the King of Spain at Guadalaxara,
which is about the same distance from Madrid as Paris is from
Fontainebleau. He arrived there, accompanied by the attendants that the
Princesse des Ursins had placed near him, to keep him company, and to
allow no one else to approach him. She followed in her coach, so as to
arrive at the same time, and immediately afterwards he shut himself up
alone with her, and saw nobody until he went to bed. This was on the
22nd of December. The next day the Princesse des Ursins set out with a
small suite for a little place, seven leagues further, called Quadraque,
where the Queen was to sleep that night. Madame des Ursins counted upon
enjoying all the gratitude that the queen would feel for the unhoped-for
grandeur she had obtained by her means; counted upon passing the evening
with her, and upon accompanying her next day to Guadalaxara. She found,
upon arriving at Quadraque, that the Queen had already reached there.
She at once entered into a lodging that had been prepared for her,
opposite that of the Queen. She was in a full Court dress. After
adjusting it in a hurried manner, she went to the Queen. The coldness
and stiffness of her reception surprised her extremely. She attributed
it in the first place to the embarrassment of the Queen, and tried to
melt this ice. Everybody withdrew, in order to leave the two alone.

Then the conversation commenced. The Queen would not long allow Madame
des Ursins to continue it; but burst out into reproaches against her for
her manners, and for appearing there in a dress that showed want of
respect for the company she was in. Madame des Ursins, whose dress was
proper, and who, on account of her respectful manners and her discourse,
calculated to win the Queen, believed herself to be far from meriting
this treatment, was strangely surprised, and wished to excuse herself;
but the Queen immediately began to utter offensive words, to cry out, to
call aloud, to demand the officers of the guard, and sharply to; command
Madame des Ursins to leave her presence. The latter wished to speak and
defend herself against the reproaches she heard; but the Queen,
increasing her fury and her menaces, cried out to her people to drive
this mad woman from her presence and from the house; and absolutely had
her turned out by the shoulders. Immediately afterwards, she called
Amenzaga, lieutenant of the body-guard, and at the same time the ecuyer
who had the control of her equipages. She ordered the first to arrest
Madame des Ursins, and not quit her until he had placed her in a coach,
with two sure officers of the guard and fifteen soldiers as sentinels
over her; the second she commanded to provide instantly a coach and six,
with two or three footmen, and send off in it the Princesse des Ursins
towards Burgos and Bayonne, without once stopping on the road. Amenzago
tried to represent to the Queen that the King of Spain alone had the
power to give such commands; but she haughtily asked him if he had not
received an order from the King of Spain to obey her in everything,
without reserve and without comment. It was true he had received such an
order, though nobody knew a word about it.

Madame des Ursins was then immediately arrested, and put into a coach
with one of her waiting-women, without having had time to change her
costume or her head-dress, to take any precaution against the cold, to
provide herself with any money or other things, and without any kind of
refreshment in the coach, or a chemise; nothing, in fact, to change or to
sleep in! She was shipped off thus (with two officers of the guard; who
were ready as soon as the coach), in full Court dress, just as she left
the Queen. In the very short and tumultuous interval which elapsed, she
sent a message to the Queen, who flew into a fresh passion upon not being
obeyed, and made her set out immediately.

It was then nearly seven o'clock in the evening, two days before
Christmas, the ground all covered with snow and ice, and the cold extreme
and very sharp and bitter, as it always is in Spain. As soon as the
Queen learned that the Princesse des Ursins was out of Quadraque, she
wrote to the King of Spain, by an officer of the guards whom she
despatched to Guadalaxara. The night was so dark that it was only by
means of the snow that anything could be seen.

It is not easy to represent the state of Madame des Ursins in the coach.
An excess of astonishment and bewilderment prevailed at first, and
suspended all other sentiment; but grief, vexation, rage, and despair,
soon followed. In their turn succeeded sad and profound reflections upon
a step so violent, so unheard-of, and so unjustifiable as she thought.
Then she hoped everything from the friendship of the King of Spain and
his confidence in her; pictured his anger and surprise, and those of the
group of attached servitors, by whom she had surrounded him, and who
would be so interested in exciting the King in her favour. The long
winter's night pissed thus; the cold was, terrible, there was nothing to
ward it off; the coachman actually lost the use of one hand. The morning
advanced; a halt was necessary in order to bait the horses; as for the
travellers there is nothing for them ever in the Spanish inns. You are
simply told where each thing you want is sold. The meat is ordinarily
alive; the wine, thick, flat, and strong; the bread bad; the water is
often worthless; as to beds, there are some, but only for the mule-
drivers, so that you must carry everything with you, and neither Madame
des Ursins nor those with her had anything whatever. Eggs, where they
could find any, were their sole resource; and these, fresh or not, simply
boiled, supported them during all the journey.

Until this halt for the horses, silence had been profound and
uninterrupted; now it was broken. During all this long night the
Princesse des Ursins had had leisure to think upon the course she should
adopt, and to compose her face. She spoke of her extreme surprise, and
of the little that had passed between her and the Queen. In like manner
the two officers of the guard accustomed, as was all Spain, to fear and
respect her more than their King, replied to her from the bottom of that
abyss of astonishment from which they had not yet arisen. The horses
being put to, the coach soon started again. Soon, too, the Princesse des
Ursins found that the assistance she expected from the King did not
arrive. No rest, no provisions, nothing to put on, until Saint-Jean de
Luz was reached. As she went further on, as time passed and no news
came, she felt she had nothing more to hope for. It may be imagined what
rage succeeded in a woman so ambitious, so accustomed to publicly reign,
so rapidly and shamefully precipitated from the summit of power by the
hand that she herself had chosen as the most solid support of her
grandeur. The Queen had not replied to the last two letters Madame des
Ursins had written to her. This studied negligence was of bad augury,
but who would have imagined treatment so strange and so unheard of?

Her nephews, Lanti and Chalais, who had permission to join her, completed
her dejection. Yet she was faithful to herself. Neither tears nor
regrets, neither reproaches nor the slightest weakness escaped her; not a
complaint even of the excessive cold, of the deprivation of all things,
or of the extreme fatigue of such a journey. The two officers who
guarded her could not contain their admiration.

At Saint-Jean de Luz, where she arrived on the 14th of January, 1715, she
found at last her corporeal ills at an end. She obtained a bed, change
of dress, food, and her liberty. The guards, their officers, and the
coach which had brought her, returned; she remained with her waiting-maid
and her nephews. She had leisure to think what she might expect from
Versailles. In spite of her mad sovereignty scheme so long maintained,
and her hardihood in arranging the King of Spain's marriage without
consulting our King, she flattered herself she should find resources in a
Court she had so long governed. It was from Saint-Jean de Luz that she
despatched a courier charged with letters for the King, for Madame de
Maintenon, and for her friends. She briefly gave us an account in those
letters of the thunderbolt which had fallen on her, and asked permission
to come to the Court to explain herself more in detail. She waited for
the return of her courier in this her first place of liberty and repose,
which of itself is very agreeable. But this first courier despatched,
she sent off Lanti with letters written less hastily, and with
instructions. Lanti saw the King in his cabinet on the last of January,
and remained there some moments. From him it was known that as soon as
Madame des Ursins despatched her first courier, she had sent her
compliments to the Queen Dowager of Spain at Bayonne, who would not
receive them. What cruel mortifications attend a fall from a throne!
Let us now return to Guadalaxara.


The officer of the guards, whom the Queen despatched with a letter for
the King of Spain as soon as Madame des Ursins was out of Quadraque,
found the King upon the point of going to bed. He appeared moved, sent a
short reply to the Queen, and gave no orders. The officer returned
immediately. What is singular is, that the secret was so well kept that
it did not transpire until the next morning at ten o'clock. It may be
imagined what emotion seized the whole Court, and what divers movements
there were among all at Guadalaxara. However, nobody dared to speak to
the King, and much expectation was built upon the reply he had sent to
the Queen. The morning passed and nothing was said; the fate of Madame
des Ursins then became pretty evident.

Chalais and Lanti made bold to ask the King for permission to go and join
the Princess in her isolation. Not only he allowed them to do so, but
charged them with a letter of simple civility, in which he told her he
was very sorry for what had happened; that he had not been able to oppose
the Queen's will; that he should continue to her her pensions, and see
that they were punctually paid. He was as good as his word: as long as
she lived she regularly received them.

The Queen arrived at Guadalaxara on the afternoon of the day before
Christmas day, at the hour fixed, and as though nothing had occurred.
The King received her in the same manner on the staircase, gave her his
hand, and immediately led her to the chapel, where the marriage was at
once celebrated; for in Spain the custom is to marry after dinner. After
that he led her to her chamber, and straightway went to bed; it was
before six o'clock in the evening, and both got up again for the midnight
mass. What passed between them upon the event of the previous evening
was entirely unknown, and has always remained so. The day after
Christmas day the King and Queen alone together in a coach, and followed
by all the Court, took the road for Madrid, where there was no more talk
of Madame des Ursins than if the King had never known her. Our King
showed not the least surprise at the news brought to him by a courier
despatched from Guadalaxara by the Duc de Saint-Aignan, though all the
Court was filled with emotion and affright after having seen Madame des
Ursins so triumphant.

Let us now look about for some explanations that will enable us to pierce
this mystery--that remark to Torcy which escaped the King, which Torcy
could not comprehend, and which he related to Castries, who told it to
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, from whom I learned it! Can we imagine
that a Parma princess brought up in a garret by an imperious mother,
would have dared to take upon herself, while six leagues from the King of
Spain whom she had never seen, a step so bold and unheard-of, when we
consider against whom directed, a person possessing the entire confidence
of that King and reigning openly? The thing is explained by the order,
so unusual and so secret, that Amenzago had from the King of Spain to
obey the Queen in everything, without reserve and without comment; an
order that became known only at the moment when she gave orders to arrest
Madame des Ursins and take her away.

Let us remark, too, the tranquillity with which our King and the King of
Spain received the first intelligence of this event; the inactivity of
the latter, the coldness of his letters to Madame des Ursins, and his
perfect indifference what became of a person who was so cherished the day
before, and who yet was forced to travel deprived of everything, by roads
full of ice and snow. We must recollect that when the King banished
Madame des Ursins before, for opening the letter of the Abbe d'Estrees,
and for the note she sent upon it, he did not dare to have his orders
executed in the presence of the King of Spain. It was on the frontier of
Portugal, where our King wished him to go for the express purpose, that
the King of Spain signed the order by which the Princesse des Ursins was
forced to withdraw from the country. Now we had a second edition of the
same volume. Let me add what I learnt from the Marechal de Brancas, to
whom Alberoni related, a long while after this disgrace, that one evening
as the Queen was travelling from Parma to Spain, he found her pacing her
chamber, with rapid step and in agitation muttering to herself, letting
escape the name of the Princesse des Ursins, and then saying with heat,
"I will drive her away, the first thing." He cried out to the Queen and
sought to represent to her the danger, the madness, the inutility of the
enterprise which overwhelmed him: "Keep all this quiet," said the Queen,
"and never let what you have heard escape you. Not a word! I know what
I am about."

All these things together threw much light upon a catastrophe equally
astonishing in itself and in its execution, and clearly show our King to
have been the author of it; the King of Spain a consenting party and
assisting by the extraordinary order given to Amenzago; and the Queen the
actress, charged in some mariner by the two Kings to bring it about. The
sequel in France confirmed this opinion.

The fall of the Princesse des Ursins caused great changes in Spain. The
Comtesse d'Altamire was named Camarera Mayor, in her place. She was one
of the greatest ladies in all Spain, and was hereditary Duchess of
Cardonne. Cellamare, nephew of Cardinal del Giudice, was named her grand
ecuyer; and the Cardinal himself soon returned to Madrid and to
consideration. As a natural consequence, Macanas was disgraced. He and
Orry had orders to leave Spain, the latter without seeing the King. He
carried with him the maledictions of the public. Pompadour, who had been
named Ambassador in Spain only to amuse Madame des Ursins, was dismissed,
and the Duc de Saint-Aignan invested with that character, just as he was
about to return after having conducted the Queen to Madrid.

In due time the Princesse des Ursins arrived in Paris, and took up her
quarters in the house of the Duc de Noirmoutiers, her brother, in the Rue
Saint-Dominique, close to mine. This journey must have appeared to her
very different from the last she had made in France, when she was Queen
of the Court. Few people, except her former friends and those of her
formal cabal, came to see her; yet, nevertheless, some curious folks
appeared, so that for the first few days there was company enough; but
after that, solitude followed when the ill-success of her journey to
Versailles became known. M. d'Orleans, reunited now with the King of
Spain, felt that it was due to his interest even more than to his
vengeance to show in a striking manner, that it was solely owing to the
hatred and artifice of Madame des Ursins that he had fallen into such
disfavour on account of Spain, and had been in danger of losing his head.
Times had changed. Monseigneur was dead, the Meudon cabal annihilated;
Madame de Maintenon had turned her back upon Madame des Ursins; thus M.
d'Orleans was free to act as he pleased. Incited by Madame la Duchesse
d'Orleans, and more still by Madame, he begged the King to prohibit
Madame des Ursins from appearing anywhere (Versailles not even excepted)
where she might meet Madame la Duchesse de Berry, Madame, Monsieur le
Duc, and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, who at the same time strictly
forbade their households to see her, and asked the persons to whom they
were particularly attached to hold no intercourse with her. This made a
great stir, openly showed that Madame des Ursins had utterly lost the
support of Madame de Maintenon and the King, and much embarrassed her.

I could not feel that M. d'Orleans was acting wrong, in thus paying off
his wrongs for the injuries she had heaped upon him, but I represented to
him, that as I had always been an intimate friend of Madame des Ursins,
putting aside her conduct towards him and making no comparison between my
attachment for him and my friendship for her, I could not forget the
marks of consideration she had always given me, particularly in her last
triumphant journey (as I have already explained), and that it would be
hard if I could not see her. We capitulated then, and M. le Duc and
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans permitted me to see her twice--once
immediately; once when she left--giving my word that I would not see her
three times, and that Madame de Saint-Simon should not see her at all;
which latter clause we agreed to very unwillingly, but there was no
remedy. As I wished at least to profit by my chance, I sent word to
Madame des Ursins, explaining the fetters that bound me, and saying that
as I wished to see her at all events at my ease since I should see her so
little, I would let pass the first few days and her first journey to
Court, before asking her for an audience.

My message was very well received; she had known for many years the terms
on which I was with M. d'Orleans; she was not surprised with these
fetters, and was grateful to me for what I had obtained. Some days after
she had been to Versailles, I went to her at two o'clock in the day. She
at once closed the door to all comers, and I was tete-a-tete with her
until ten o'clock at night.

It may be imagined what a number of things were passed in review during
this long discourse. Our eight hours of conversation appeared to me like
eight moments. She related to me her catastrophe, without mixing up the
King or the King of Spain, of whom she spoke well; but, without violently
attacking the Queen, she predicted what since has occurred. We separated
at supper time, with a thousand reciprocal protestations and regret that
Madame de Saint-Simon could not see her. She promised to inform me of
her departure early enough to allow us to pass another day together.

Her journey to Versailles did not pass off very pleasantly. She dined
with the Duchesse de Luders, and then visited Madame de Maintenon; waited
with her for the King, but when he came did not stop long, withdrawing to
Madame Adam's, where she passed the night. The next day she dined with
the Duchesse de Ventadour, and returned to Paris. She was allowed to
give up the pension she received from the King, and in exchange to have
her Hotel de Ville stock increased, so that it yielded forty thousand
livres a-year. Her income, besides being doubled, was thus much more
sure than would have been a pension from the King, which she doubted not
M. d'Orleans, as soon as he became master, would take from her. She
thought of retiring into Holland, but the States-General would have
nothing to do with her, either at the Hague, or at Amsterdam. She had
reckoned upon the Hague. She next thought of Utrecht, but was soon out
of conceit with it, and turned her regards towards Italy.

The health of the King, meanwhile, visibly declining, Madame des Ursins
feared lest she should entirely fall into the clutches of M. d'Orleans.
She fully resolved, therefore, to make off, without knowing, however,
where to fix herself; and asked permission of the King to come and take
leave of him at Marly. She came there from Paris on Tuesday, the 6th of
August, so as to arrive as he left dinner, that is, about ten o'clock.
She was immediately admitted into the cabinet of the King, with whom she
remained tete-a-tete full half an hour. She passed immediately to the
apartments of Madame de Maintenon, with whom she remained an hour; and
then got into her coach and returned to Paris. I only knew of this
leave-taking by her arrival at Marly, where I had some trouble in meeting
her. As chance would have it, I went in search of her coach to ask her
people what had become of her, and was speaking to them when, to and
behold! she herself arrived. She seemed very glad to see me, and made me
mount with her into her coach, where for little less than an hour we
discoursed very freely. She did not dissimulate from me her fears; the
coldness the King and Madame de Maintenon had testified for her through
all their politeness; the isolation she found herself in at the Court,
even in Paris; and the uncertainty in which she was as to the choice of a
retreat; all this in detail, and nevertheless without complaint, without
regret, without weakness; always reassured and superior to events, as
though some one else were in question. She touched lightly upon Spain,
upon the ascendency the Queen was acquiring already over the King, giving
me to understand that it could not be otherwise; running lightly and
modestly over the Queen, and always praising the goodness of the King of
Spain. Fear, on account of the passers-by, put an end to our
conversation. She was very gracious to me; expressed regret that we must
part; proceeded to tell me when she should start in time for us to have
another day together; sent many compliments to Madame de Saint-Simon; and
declared herself sensible of the mark of friendship I had given her, in
spite of my engagement with M. d'Orleans. As soon as I had seen her off,
I went to M. d'Orleans, to whom I related what I had just done; said I
had not paid a visit, but had had simply a meeting; that it was true I
could not hinder myself from seeking it, without prejudice to the final
visit he had allowed me. Neither he nor Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans
complained. They had fully triumphed over their enemy, and were on the
point of seeing her leave France for ever, without hope in Spain.

Until now, Madame des Ursins amused by a residue of friends, increased by
those of M. de Noirmoutiers with whom she lodged and who had money, had
gently occupied herself with the arrangement of her affairs, changed as
they were, and in withdrawing her effects from Spain. The fear lest she
should find herself in the power of a Prince whom she had so cruelly
offended, and who showed, since her arrival in France, that he felt it,
hurried all her measures. Her terror augmented by the change in the King
that she found at this last audience had taken place since her first.
She no longer doubted that his end was very near; and all her attention
was directed to the means by which she might anticipate it, and be well
informed of his health; this she believed her sole security in France.
Terrified anew by the accounts she received of it, she no longer gave
herself time for anything, but precipitately set out on the 14th August,
accompanied as far as Essonne by her two nephews. She had no time to
inform me, so that I have never seen her since the day of our
conversation at Marly in her coach. She did not breathe until she
arrived at Lyons.

She had abandoned the project of retiring into Holland, where the States-
General would not have her. She herself, too, was disgusted with the
equality of a republic, which counterbalanced in her mind the pleasure of
the liberty enjoyed there. But she could not resolve to return to Rome,
the theatre of her former reign, and appear there proscribed and old, as
in an asylum. She feared, too, a bad reception, remembering the quarrels
that had taken place between the Courts of Rome and Spain. She had lost
many friends and acquaintances; in fifteen years of absence all had
passed away, and she felt the trouble she might be subjected to by the
ministers of the Emperor, and by those of the two Crowns, with their
partisans. Turin was not a Court worthy of her; the King of Sardinia had
not always been pleased with her, and they knew too much for each other.
At Venice she would have been out of her element.

Whilst agitated in this manner, without being able to make up her mind,
she learned that the King was in extreme danger, a danger exaggerated by
rumour. Fear seized her lest he should die whilst she was in his realm.
She set off immediately, therefore, without knowing where to go; and
solely to leave France went to Chambery, as the nearest place of safety,
arriving there out of breath, so to say.

Every place being well examined, she preferred Genoa; its liberty pleased
her; there was intercourse there with a rich and numerous nobility; the
climate and the city were beautiful; the place was in some sort a centre
and halting-point between Madrid, Paris, and Rome, with which places she
was always in communication, and always hungered after all that passed
there. Genoa determined on, she went there. She was well received,
hoped to fix her tabernacle there, and indeed stayed some years. But at
last ennui seized her; perhaps vexation at not being made enough of. She
could not exist without meddling, and what is there for a superannuated
woman to meddle with at Genoa? She turned her thoughts, therefore,
towards Rome. Then, on sounding, found her course clear, quitted Genoa,
and returned to her nest.

She was not long there before she attached herself to the King and Queen
of England (the Pretender and his wife), and soon governed them openly.
What a poor resource! But it was courtly and had a flavour of occupation
for a woman who could not exist without movement. She finished her life
there remarkably healthy in mind and body, and in a prodigious opulence,
which was not without its use in that deplorable Court. For the rest,
Madame des Ursins was in mediocre estimation at Rome, was deserted by the
Spanish, little visited by the French, but always faithfully paid by
France and Spain, and unmolested by the Regent. She was always occupied
with the world, and with what she had been, but was no longer; yet
without meanness, nay, with courage and dignity.

The loss she experienced in January, 1720, of the Cardinal de la
Tremoille, although there was no real friendship between them, did not
fail, to create a void in her. She survived him three years, preserved
all her health, her strength, her mind until death, and was carried off,
more than eighty years of age, at Rome, on the 5th of December, 1722,
after a very short illness.

She had the pleasure of seeing Madame de Maintenon forgotten and
annihilated in Saint-Cyr, of surviving her, of seeing at Rome her two
enemies, Giudice and Alberoni, as profoundly disgraced as she,--one
falling from the same height, and of relishing the forgetfulness, not to
say contempt, into which they both sank. Her death, which, a few years
before, would have resounded throughout all Europe, made not the least
sensation. The little English Court regretted her, and some private
friends also, of whom I was one. I did not hide this, although,--on
account of M. le Duc d'Orleans, I had kept up no intercourse with her;
for the rest, nobody seemed to perceive she had disappeared. She was,
nevertheless, so extraordinary a person, during all the course of her
long life, everywhere, and had so grandly figured, although in various
ways; had such rare intellect, courage, industry, and resources; reigned
so publicly and so absolutely in Spain; and had a character so sustained
and so unique, that her life deserves to be written, and would take a
place among the most curious fragments of the history of the times in
which she lived.


But I must return somewhat now, in order to make way for a crowd of
events which have been pressing forward all this time, but which I have
passed by, in going straightforward at once to the end of Madame des
Ursins' history.

On Monday, the 30th April, 1714., the King took medicine, and worked
after dinner with Pontchartrain. This was at Marly. About six o'clock,
he went to M. le Duc de Berry, who had had fever all night. M. le Duc de
Berry had risen without saying anything, had been with the King at the
medicine-hour, and intended to go stag-hunting; but on leaving the King's
chamber shivering seized him, and forced him to go back again. He was
bled while the King was in his chamber, and the blood was found very bad;
when the King went to bed the doctors told him the illness was of a
nature to make them hope that it might be a case of contagion. M. le Duc
de Berry had vomited a good deal--a black vomit. Fagon said,
confidently, that it was from the blood; the other doctors fastened upon
some chocolate he had taken on the Sunday. From this day forward I knew
what was the matter. Boulduc, apothecary of the King, and extremely
attached to Madame de Saint-Simon and to me, whispered in my ear that M.
le Duc de Berry would not recover, and that, with some little difference,
his malady was the same as that of which the Dauphin and Dauphine died.
He repeated this the next day, and never once varied afterwards; saying
to me on the third day, that none of the doctors who attended the Prince
were of a different opinion, or hid from him what they thought.

On Tuesday, the 1st of May, the Prince was bled in the foot at seven
o'clock in the morning, after a very bad night; took emetics twice, which
had a good effect; then some manna; but still there were two accesses.
The King went to the sick-room afterwards, held a finance council, would
not go shooting, as he had arranged, but walked in his gardens. The
doctors, contrary to their custom, never reassured him. The night was
cruel. On Wednesday; the 2nd of May, the King went, after mass, to M. le
Duc de Berry, who had been again bled in the foot. The King held the
Council of State, as usual, dined in Madame de Maintenon's rooms, and
afterwards reviewed his Guards. Coettenfao, chevalier d'honneur of
Madame la Duchesse de Berry, came during the morning to beg the King, in
her name, that Chirac, a famous doctor of M. d'Orleans, should be allowed
to see M. le Duc de Berry. The King refused, on the ground that all the
other doctors were in accord, and that Chirac, who might differ with
them, would embarrass them. After dinner Mesdames de Pompadour and La
Vieuville arrived, on the part of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, to beg the
King that she might be allowed to come and see her husband, saying that
she would come on foot rather than stay away. It would have been better,
surely, for her to come in a coach, if she so much wished, and, before
alighting, to send to the King for permission so to do. But the fact is,
she had no more desire to come than M. de Berry had to see her. He never
once mentioned her name, or spoke of her, even indirectly. The King
replied to those ladies by saying that he would not close the door
against Madame la Duchesse de Berry, but, considering the state she was
in, he thought it would be very imprudent on her part to come. He
afterwards told M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans to go to
Versailles and hinder her from coming. Upon returning from the review
the King went again to see M. le Duc de Berry. He had been once more
bled in the arm, had vomited all day much blood too--and had taken some
Robel water three times, in order to stop his sickness. This vomiting
put off the communion. Pere de la Rue had been by his side ever since
Tuesday morning, and found him very patient and resigned.

On Thursday, the 3rd, after a night worse than ever, the doctors said
they did not doubt that a vein had been broken in the stomach. It was
reported that this accident had happened by an effort M. de Berry made
when out hunting on the previous Thursday, the day the Elector of Bavaria
arrived. His horse slipped; in drawing the animal up, his body struck
against the pommel of the saddle, so it was said, and ever since he had
spit blood every day. The vomiting ceased at nine o'clock in the
morning, but the patient was no better. The King, who was going stag-
hunting, put it off. At six o'clock at night M. de Berry was so choked
that he could no longer remain in bed; about eight o'clock he found
himself so relieved that he said to Madame, he hoped he should not die;
but soon after, the malady increased so much that Pere de la Rue said it
was no longer time to think of anything but God, and of receiving the
sacrament. The poor Prince himself seemed to desire it.

A little after ten o'clock at night the King went to the chapel, where a
consecrated Host had been kept prepared ever since the commencement of
the illness. M. le Duc de Berry received it, with extreme unction, in
presence of the King, with much devotion and respect. The King remained
nearly an hour in the chamber, supped alone in his own, did not receive
the Princesses afterwards, but went to bed. M. le Duc d'Orleans, at ten
o'clock in the morning, went again to Versailles, as Madame la Duchesse
de Berry wished still to come to Marly. M. le Duc de Berry related to
Pere de la Rue, who at least said so, the accident just spoken of; but,
it was added, "his head was then beginning to wander." After losing the
power of speech, he took the crucifix Pere de la Rue held, kissed it, and
placed it upon his heart. He expired on Friday, the 4th of May, 1714, at
four o'clock in the morning, in his twenty-eighth year, having been born
at Versailles, the last day of August, 1686.

M. le Duc de Berry was of ordinary height, rather fat, of a beautiful
blonde complexion, with a fresh, handsome face, indicating excellent
health. He was made for society, and for pleasure, which he loved; the
best, gentlest, most compassionate and accessible of men, without pride,
and without vanity, but not without dignity or self-appreciation. He was
of medium intellect, without ambition or desire, but had very good sense,
and was capable of listening, of understanding, and of always taking the
right side in preference to the wrong, however speciously put. He loved
truth, justice, and reason; all that was contrary to religion pained him
to excess, although he was not of marked piety. He was not without
firmness, and hated constraint. This caused it to be feared that he was
not supple enough for a younger son, and, indeed, in his early youth he
could not understand that there was any difference between him and his
eldest brother, and his boyish quarrels often caused alarm.

He was the most gay, the most frank, and consequently the most loved of
the three brothers; in his youth nothing was spoken of but his smart
replies to Madame and M. de la Rochefoucauld. He laughed at preceptors
and at masters--often at punishment. He scarcely knew anything except
how to read and write; and learned nothing after being freed from the
necessity of learning. This ignorance so intimidated him, that he could
scarcely open his mouth before strangers, or perform the most ordinary
duties of his rank; he had persuaded himself that he was an ass and a
fool; fit for nothing. He was so afraid of the King that he dared not
approach him, and was so confused if the King looked hard at him, or
spoke of other things than hunting, or gaming, that he scarcely
understood a word, or could collect his thoughts. As may be imagined,
such fear does not go hand in hand with deep affection.

He commenced life with Madame la Duchesse de Berry as do almost all those
who marry very young and green. He became extremely amorous of her;
this, joined to his gentleness and natural complaisance, had the usual
effect, which was to thoroughly spoil her. He was not long in perceiving
it; but love was too strong for him. He found a woman proud, haughty,
passionate, incapable of forgiveness, who despised him, and who allowed
him to see it, because he had infinitely less head than she; and because,
moreover, she was supremely false and strongly determined. She piqued
herself upon both these qualities, and on her contempt for religion,
ridiculing M. le Duc de Berry for being devout; and all these things
became insupportable to him. Her gallantries were so prompt, so rapid,
so unmeasured, that he could not help seeing them. Her endless private
interviews with M. le Duc d'Orleans, in which everything languished if he
was present, made him furious. Violent scenes frequently took place
between them; the last, which occurred at Rambouillet, went so far that
Madame la Duchesse de Berry received a kick * * * * , and a menace that
she should be shut up in a convent for the rest of her life; and when M.
le Duc de Berry fell ill, he was thumbing his hat, like a child, before
the King, relating all his grievances, and asking to be delivered from
Madame la Duchesse de Berry. Hitherto I have only alluded to Madame la
Duchesse de Berry, but, as will be seen, she became so singular a person
when her father was Regent, that I will here make her known more
completely than I have yet done.

She was tall, handsome, well made, with, however, but little grace, and
had something in her, eyes which made you fear what she was. Like her
father and mother, she spoke well and with facility. Timid in trifles,
yet in other things terrifyingly bold,--foolishly haughty sometimes, and
sometimes mean to the lowest degree,--it may be said that she was a model
of all the vices, avarice excepted; and was all the more dangerous
because she had art and talent. I am not accustomed to over-colour the
picture I am obliged to present to render things understood, and it will
easily be perceived how strictly I am reserved upon the ladies, and upon
all gallantries, not intimately associated with what may be called
important matters. I should be so here, more than in any other case,
from self-love, if not from respect for the sex and dignity of the
person. The considerable part I played in bringing about Madame la
Duchesse de Berry's marriage, and the place that Madame de Saint-Simon,
in spite of herself and of me, occupied in connection with her, would be
for me reasons more than enough for silence, if I did not feel that
silence would throw obscurity over all the sequel of this history. It is
then to the truth that I sacrifice my self-love, and with the same
truthfulness I will say that if I had known or merely suspected, that the
Princess was so bad as she showed herself directly after her marriage,
and always more and more since, she would never have become Duchesse de

I have already told how she annoyed M. le Duc de Berry by ridiculing his
devotion. In other ways she put his patience to severe trials, and more
than once was in danger of public exposure. She partook of few meals in
private, at which she did not get so drunk as to lose consciousness, and
to bring up all she had taken on every side. The presence of M. le Duc
de Berry, of M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, of ladies with
whom she was not on familiar terms, in no way restrained her. She
complained even of M. le Duc de Berry for not doing as she did. She
often treated her father with a haughtiness which was terrifying on all

In her gallantries she was as unrestrained as in other things. After
having had several favourites, she fixed herself upon La Haye, who from
King's page had become private ecuyer of M. le Duc de Berry. The oglings
in the Salon of Marly were perceived by everybody; nothing restrained
them. At last, it must be said, for this fact encloses all the rest, she
wished La Haye to run away with her from Versailles to the Low Countries,
whilst M. le Duc de Berry and the King were both living. La Haye almost
died with fright at this proposition, which she herself made to him. His
refusal made her furious. From the most pressing entreaties she came to
all the invectives that rage could suggest, and that torrents of tears
allowed her to pronounce. La Haye had to suffer her attacks--now tender,
now furious; he was in the most mortal embarrassment. It was a long time
before she could be cured of her mad idea, and in the meanwhile she
subjected the poor fellow to the most frightful persecution. Her passion
for La Haye continued until the death of M. le Duc de Berry, and some
time after.

M. le Duc de Berry was buried at Saint-Denis on Wednesday, the 16th of
May; M. le Duc d'Orleans was to have headed the procession, but the same
odious reports against him that had circulated at the death of the
Dauphin had again appeared, and he begged to be let off. M. le Duc
filled his place. Madame la Duchesse de Berry, who was in the family
way, kept her bed; and in order that she should not be seen there when
people came to pay her the usual visits of condolence, the room was kept
quite dark. Many ridiculous scenes and much indecent laughter, that
could not be restrained, thus arose. Persons accustomed to the room
could see their way, but those unaccustomed stumbled at every step, and
had need of guidance. For want of this, Pere du Trevoux, and Pere
Tellier after him, both addressed their compliments to the wall; others
to the foot of the bed. This became a secret amusement, but happily did
not last long.

As may be imagined, the death of M. le Duc de Berry was a deliverance for
Madame la Duchesse de Berry. She was, as I have said, in the family way;
she hoped for a boy, and counted upon enjoying as a widow more liberty
than she had been able to take as a wife. She had a miscarriage,
however, on Saturday, the 16th of June, and was delivered of a daughter
which lived only twelve hours. The little corpse was buried at Saint-
Denis, Madame de Saint-Simon at the head of the procession. Madame la
Duchesse de Berry, shortly before this event, received two hundred
thousand livres income of pension; but the establishment she would have
had if the child had been a boy was not allowed her.


It is time now that I should say something about an event that caused an
immense stir throughout the land, and was much talked of even in foreign
parts. I must first introduce, however, a sort of a personage whose
intimacy was forced upon me at this period; for the two incidents are in
a certain degree associated together.

M. d'Orleans for some little time had continually represented to me, how
desirous one of his acquaintances was to secure my friendship. This
acquaintance was Maisons, president in the parliament, grandson of that
superintendent of the finances who built the superb chateau of Maisons,
and son of the man who had presided so unworthily at the judgment of our
trial with M. de Luxembourg, which I have related in its place. Maisons
was a person of much ambition, exceedingly anxious to make a name,
gracious and flattering in manners to gain his ends, and amazingly fond
of grand society.

The position of Maisons, where he lived, close to Marly, afforded him
many opportunities of drawing there the principal people of the Court.
It became quite the fashion to go from Marly to his chateau. The King
grew accustomed to hear the place spoken of, and was in no way
displeased. Maisons had managed to become very intimate with M. le Duc
and M. le Prince de Conti. These two princes being dead, he turned his
thoughts towards M, d'Orleans. He addressed himself to Canillac, who had
always been an intimate friend of M. d'Orleans, and by him soon gained
the intimacy of that prince. But he was not yet satisfied. He wished to
circumvent M. d'Orleans more completely than he could by means of
Canillac. He cast his eye, therefore, upon me. I think he was afraid of
me on account of what I have related concerning his father. He had an
only son about the same age as my children. For a long time he had made
all kinds of advances, and visited them often. The son's intimacy did
not, however, assist the father; so that at last Maisons made M. le Duc
d'Orleans speak to me himself.

I was cold; tried to get out of the matter with compliments and excuses.
M. d'Orleans, who believed he had found a treasure in his new
acquaintance, returned to the charge; but I was not more docile. A few
days after, I was surprised by an attack of the same kind from M. de
Beauvilliers. How or when he had formed an intimacy with Maisons, I have
never been able to unravel; but formed it, he had; and he importuned me
so much, nay exerted his authority over me, that at last I found I must
give way. Not to offend M. d'Orleans by yielding to another after having
refused to yield to him, I waited until he should again speak to me on
the subject, so that he might give himself the credit of vanquishing me.
I did not wait long. The Prince attacked me anew, maintained that
nothing would be more useful to him than an intimacy between myself and
Maisons, who scarcely dared to see him, except in secret, and with whom
he had not the same leisure or liberty for discussing many things that
might present themselves. I had replied to all this before; but as I had
resolved to surrender to the Prince (after the authority of the Duc de
Beauvilliers had vanquished me), I complied with his wish.

Maisons was soon informed of it, and did not let my resolution grow,
cold. M. le Duc d'Orleans urged me to go and sleep a night in Paris.
Upon arriving there, I found a note from Maisons, who had already sent an
ocean of compliments to me by the Prince and the Duke. This note, for
reasons to be told me afterwards, appointed a meeting at eleven o'clock
this night, in the plain behind the Invalides, in a very mysterious
manner. I went there with an old coachman of my mother's and a lackey to
put my people off the scent. There was a little moonlight. Maisons in a
small carriage awaited me. We soon met. He mounted into my coach. I
never could comprehend the mystery of this meeting. There was nothing on
his part but advances, compliments, protestations, allusions to the
former interview of our fathers; only such things, in fact, as a man of
cleverness and breeding says when he wishes to form a close intimacy with
any one. Not a word that he said was of importance or of a private

I replied in the civillest manner possible to the abundance he bestowed
upon me. I expected afterwards something that would justify the hour,
the place, the mystery, in a word, of our interview. What was my
surprise to hear no syllable upon these points. The only reason Maisons
gave for our secret interview was that from that time he should be able
to come and see me at Versailles with less inconvenience, and gradually
increase the number and the length of his visits until people grew
accustomed to see him there! He then begged me not to visit him in
Paris, because his house was always too full of people. This interview
lasted little less than half an hour. It was long indeed, considering
what passed. We separated with much politeness, and the first time he
went to Versailles he called upon me towards the middle of the day.

In a short time he visited me every Sunday. Our conversation by degrees
became more serious. I did not fail to be on my guard, but drew him out
upon various subjects; he being very willing.

We were on this footing when, returning to my room at Marly about midday-
on Sunday, the 29th of July, I found a lackey of Maisons with a note from
him, in which he conjured me to quit all business and come immediately to
his house at Paris, where he would wait for me alone, and where I should
find that something was in question, that could not suffer the slightest
delay, that could not even be named in writing, and which was of the most
extreme importance. This lackey had long since arrived, and had sent my
people everywhere in search of me. I was engaged that day to dine with
M. and Madame de Lauzun. To have broken my engagement would have been to
set the curiosity and the malignity of M. de Lauzun at work. I dared not
disappear; therefore I gave orders to my coachman, and as soon as I had
dined I vanished. Nobody saw me get into my chaise; and I quickly
arrived at Paris, and immediately hastened to Maisons' with eagerness
easy to imagine.

I found him alone with the Duc de Noailles. At the first glance I saw
two dismayed men, who said to me in an exhausted manner, but after a
heated though short preface, that the King had declared his two bastards
and their male posterity to all eternity, real princes of the blood, with
full liberty to assume all their dignities, honours, and rank, and
capacity to succeed to the throne in default of the others.

At this news, which I did not expect, and the secret of which had
hitherto been preserved, without a particle of it transpiring, my arms
fell. I lowered my head and remained profoundly silent, absorbed in my
reflections. They were soon disturbed by cries which aroused me. These
two men commenced pacing the chamber; stamped with their feet; pushed and
struck the furniture; raged as though each wished to be louder than the
other, and made the house echo with their noise. I avow that so much
hubbub seemed suspicious to me on the part of two men, one so sage and so
measured, and to whom this rank was of no consequence; the other always
so tranquil, so crafty, so master of himself. I knew not why this sudden
fury succeeded to such dejected oppression; and I was not without
suspicion that their passion was put on merely to excite mine. If this
was their design, it succeeded ill. I remained in my chair, and coldly
asked them what was the matter. My tranquillity sharpened their fury.
Never in my life have I seen anything so surprising.

I asked them if they had gone mad, and if instead of this tempest it
would not be better to reason, and see whether something could not be
done. They declared it was precisely because nothing could be done
against a thing not only resolved on, but executed, declared, and sent to
the Parliament, that they were so furious; that M. le Duc d'Orleans, on
the terms he was with the King, would not dare even to whisper
objections; that the Princes of the blood, mere children as they were,
could only tremble; that the Dukes had no means of opposition, and that
the Parliament was reduced to silence and slavery. Thereupon they set to
work to see who could cry the louder and reviled again, sparing neither
things nor persons.

I, also, was in anger, but this racket kept me cool and made me smile.
I argued with them and said, that after all I preferred to see the
bastards princes of the blood, capable of succeeding to the throne, than
to see them in the intermediary rank they occupied. And it is true that
as soon as I had cooled myself, I felt thus.

At last the storm grew calm, and they told me that the Chief-President
and the Attorney-General--who, I knew, had been at Marly very early in
the morning at the Chancellor's--had seen the King in his cabinet soon
after he rose, and had brought back the declaration, all prepared.
Maisons must, however, have known this earlier; because when the lackey
he sent to me set out from Paris, those gentlemen could not have returned
there. Our talk led to nothing, and I regained Marly in all haste, in
order that my absence might not be remarked.

Nevertheless it was towards the King's supper hour when I arrived. I
went straight to the salon, and found it very dejected. People looked,
but scarcely dared to approach each other; at the most, a sign or a
whisper in the ear, as the courtiers brushed by one another, was ventured
out. I saw the King sit down to table; he seemed to me more haughty than
usual, and continually looked all around. The news had only been known
one hour; everybody was still congealed and upon his guard.

As soon as the King was seated (he had looked very hard at me in passing)
I went straight to M. du Maine's. Although the hour was unusual, the
doors fell before me; I saw a man, who received me with joyful surprise,
and who, as it were, moved through the air towards me, all lame that he
was. I said that I came to offer him a sincere compliment, that we (the
Dukes) claimed no precedence over the Princes of the blood; but what we
claimed was, that there should be nobody between the Princes of the blood
and us; that as this intermediary rank no longer existed, we had nothing
more to say, but to rejoice that we had no longer to support what was
insupportable. The joy of M. du Maine burst forth at my compliments, and
he startled me with a politeness inspired by the transport of triumph.

But if he was delighted at the declaration of the King, it was far
otherwise with the world. Foreign dukes and princes fumed, but
uselessly. The Court uttered dull murmurs more than could have been
expected. Paris and the provinces broke out; the Parliament did not keep
silent. Madame de Maintenon, delighted with her work, received the
adoration of her familiars.

As for me, I will content myself with but few reflections upon this most
monstrous, astounding, and frightful determination of the King. I will
simply say, that it is impossible not to see in it an attack upon the
Crown; contempt for the entire nation, whose rights are trodden under
foot by it; insult to all the Princes of the blood; in fact the crime of
high treason in its most rash and most criminal extent. Yes! however
venerable God may have rendered in the eyes of men the majesty of Kings
and their sacred persons, which are his anointed; however execrable may
be the crime known as high treason, of attempting their lives; however
terrible and singular may be the punishments justly invented to prevent
that crime, and to remove by their horror the most infamous from the
infernal resolution of committing it, we cannot help finding in the crime
in question a plenitude not in the other, however abominable it may be:
Yes! to overthrow the most holy laws, that have existed ever since the
establishment of monarchy; to extinguish a right the most sacred--the
most important--the most inherent in the nation: to make succession to
the throne, purely, supremely, and despotically arbitrary; in a word, to
make of a bastard a crown prince, is a crime more black, more vast, more
terrible, than that of high treason against the chief of the State.


But let me now explain by what means the King was induced to arrive at,
and publish this terrible determination.

He was growing old, and though no external change in him was visible,
those near him had for some time begun to fear that he could not live
long. This is not the place to descant upon a health hitherto so good
and so even: suffice it to mention, that it silently began to give way.
Overwhelmed by the most violent reverses of fortune after being so long
accustomed to success, the King was even more overwhelmed by domestic
misfortunes. All his children had disappeared before him, and left him
abandoned to the most fatal reflections. At every moment he himself
expected the same kind of death. Instead of finding relief from his
anguish among those who surrounded him, and whom he saw most frequently,
he met with nothing but fresh trouble there. Excepting Marechal, his
chief surgeon, who laboured unceasingly to cure him of his suspicions,
Madame de Maintenon, M. du Maine, Fagon, Bloin, the other principal
valets sold to the bastard and his former governors,--all sought to
augment these suspicions; and in truth it was not difficult to do so.
Nobody doubted that poison had been used, nobody could seriously doubt
it; and Marechal, who was as persuaded as the rest, held a different
opinion before the King only to deliver him from a useless torment which
could not but do him injury. But M. du Maine, and Madame de Maintenon
also, had too much interest to maintain him in this fear, and by their,
art filled him with horror against M. d'Orleans, whom they named as the
author of these crimes, so that the King with this prince before his eyes
every day, was in a perpetual state of alarm.

With his children the King had lost, and by the same way, a princess, who
in addition to being the soul and ornament of his court, was, moreover,
all his amusement, all his joy, all his affection, in the hours when he
was not in public. Never, since he entered the world, had he become
really familiar with any one but her; it has been seen elsewhere to what
extent. Nothing could fill up this great void: The bitterness of being
deprived of her augmented, because he could find no diversion. This
unfortunate state made him seek relief everywhere in abandoning himself
more and more to Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine.

They soon managed to obtain possession of him, as it were, entirely;
leaving no art unexhausted in order to flatter, to amuse, to please, and
to interest him. He was made to believe that M. du Maine was utterly
without ambition; like a good father of a family, solely occupied with
his children, touched with the grandeur of his nearness to the King,
simple, frank, upright, and one who after working at his duties all day,
and after giving himself time for prayer and piety, amused himself in
hunting, and drew upon his natural gaiety and cheerfulness, without
knowing anything of the Court, or of what was passing! Compare this
portrait with his real character, and we shall feel with terror what a
rattlesnake was introduced into the King's privacy.

Established thus in the mind and heart of the King, the opportunity
seemed ripe for profiting by precious time that could not last long.
Everybody smiled upon the project of M. du Maine and Madame de Maintenon.
They had rendered M. d'Orleans odious in the eyes of the King and of the
whole country, by the most execrable calumnies. How could he defend
himself? shut up as the King was, how oppose them? how interfere with
their dark designs? M. du Maine wished not only to be made prince of the
blood, but to be made guardian of the heir to the throne, so as to dwarf
the power of the Regent as much as possible. He flattered himself that
the feeling he had excited against M. d'Orleans in the Court, in Paris,
and in the provinces would be powerfully strengthened by dispositions so
dishonourable; that he should find himself received as the guardian and
protector of the life of the royal infant, to whom was attached the
salvation of France, of which he would then become the idol; that the
independent possession of the young King, and of his military and civil
households, would strengthen with the public applause the power with
which he would be invested in the state by this testament; that the
Regent, reviled and stripped in this manner, not only would be in no
condition to dispute anything, but would be unable to defend himself from
any attempts the bastard might afterwards make against him. M. du Maine
wished in fact to take from M. d'Orleans everything, except the name of
Regent, and to divide all the power between himself and his brother.
Such was his scheme, that the King by incredible art was induced to
sanction and approve.

But the schemers had tough work before they obtained this success.
They found that the King would not consent to their wishes without much
opposition. They hit upon a devilish plan to overpower his resistance.
Hitherto, they had only been occupied in pleasing him, in amusing him,
in anticipating his wishes, in praising him--let me say the word--
in adoring him. They had redoubled their attention, since, by the
Dauphine's death, they had become his sole resource.

Not being able now to lead him as they wished, but determined to do so at
all cost, they adopted another system, certain as they were that they
could do so with impunity. Both became serious, often times dejected,
silent, furnishing nothing to the conversation, letting pass what the
King forced himself to say, sometimes not even replying, if it was not a
direct interrogation. In this manner all the leisure hours of the King
were rendered dull and empty; his amusements and diversions were made
fatiguing and sad and a weight was cast upon him, which he was the more
unable to bear because it was quite new to him, and he was utterly
without means to remove it. The few ladies who were admitted to the
intimacy of the King knew not what to make of the change they saw in
Madame de Maintenon. They were duped at first by the plea of illness;
but seeing at last that its duration passed all bounds, that it had no
intermission, that her face announced no malady, that her daily life was
in no way deranged, that the King became as serious and as sad as she,
they sounded each other to find out the cause. Fear, lest it should be
something in which they, unknowingly, were concerned, troubled them; so
that they became even worse company to the King than Madame de Maintenon.

There was no relief for the King. All his resource was in the
commonplace talk of the Comte de Toulouse, who was not amusing, although
ignorant of the plot, and the stories of his valets, who lost tongue as
soon as they perceived that they were not seconded by the Duc du Maine in
his usual manner. Marechal and all the rest, astonished at the
mysterious dejection of the Duc du Maine, looked at each other without
being able to divine the cause. They saw that the King was sad and
bored; they trembled for his health, but not one of them dared to do
anything. Time ran on, and the dejection of M. du Maine and Madame de
Maintenon increased. This is as far as the most instructed have ever
been able to penetrate. To describe the interior scenes that doubtless
passed during the long time this state of things lasted, would be to
write romance. Truth demands that we should relate what we know, and
admit what we are ignorant of. I cannot go farther, therefore, or pierce
deeper into the density of these dark mysteries.

What is certain is, that cheerfulness came back all at once, with the
same surprise to the witnesses of it, as the long-continued dejection had
caused them, simply because they understood no more of the end than of
the commencement. The double knowledge did not come to them until they
heard the frightful crash of the thunderbolt which fell upon France, and
astonished all Europe.

To give some idea of the opposition from the King, M. du Maine and Madame
de Maintenon had to overcome, and to show how reluctantly he consented to
their wishes, more than one incident may be brought forward. Some days
before the news transpired, the King, full of the enormity of what he had
just done for his bastards, looked at them in his cabinet, in presence of
the valets, and of D'Antin and D'O, and in a sharp manner, that told of
vexation, and with a severe glance, suddenly thus addressed himself to M.
du Maine:

"You have wished it; but know that however great I may make you, and you
may be in my lifetime, you are nothing after me; and it will be for you
then to avail yourself of what I have done for you, if you can."

Everybody present trembled at a thunder-clap so sudden, so little
expected, so entirely removed from the character and custom of the King,
and which showed so clearly the extreme ambition of the Duc du Maine, and
the violence he had done to the weakness of the King, who seemed to
reproach himself for it, and to reproach the bastard for his ambition and
tyranny. The consternation of M. du Maine seemed extreme at this rough
sally, which no previous remark had led to. The King had made a clean
breast of it. Everybody fixed his eyes upon the floor and held his
breath. The silence was profound for a considerable time: it finished
only when the King passed into his wardrobe. In his absence everybody
breathed again. The King's heart was full to bursting with what he had
just been made to do; but like a woman who gives birth to two children,
he had at present brought but one into the world, and bore a second of
which he must be delivered, and of which he felt all the pangs without
any relief from the suffering the first had caused him.

Again, on Sunday, the 27th August, the Chief-President and the Attorney-
General were sent for by the King. He was at Versailles. As soon as
they were alone with him, he took from a drawer, which he unlocked, a
large and thick packet, sealed with seven seals (I know not if by this M.
du Maine wished to imitate the mysterious book with Seven Seals, of the
Apocalypse, and so sanctify the packet). In handing it to them, the King
said: "Gentlemen, this is my will. No one but myself knows its contents.
I commit it to you to keep in the Parliament, to which I cannot give a
greater testimony of my esteem and confidence than by rendering it the
depository of it. The example of the Kings my predecessors, and that of
the will of the King, my father, do not allow me to be ignorant of what
may become of this; but they would have it; they have tormented me; they
have left me no repose, whatever I might say. Very well! I have bought
my repose. Here is the will; take it away: come what may of it, at
least, I shall have rest, and shall hear no more about it."

At this last word, that he finished with a dry nod, he turned his back
upon them, passed into another cabinet, and left them both nearly turned
into statues. They looked at each other frozen by what they had just
heard, and still more by what they had just seen in the eyes and the
countenance of the King; and as soon as they had collected their senses,
they retired, and went to Paris. It was not known until after dinner
that the King had made a will and given it to them. In proportion as the
news spread, consternation filled the Court, while the flatterers, at
bottom as much alarmed as the rest, and as Paris was afterwards,
exhausted themselves in praises and eulogies.

The next day, Monday, the 28th, the Queen of England came from Chaillot,
where she almost always was, to Madame de Maintenon's. As soon as the
King perceived her, "Madame," said he to her, like a man full of
something and angry, "I have made my will; I have been tormented to do
it;" then casting his eyes upon Madame de Maintenon, "I have bought
repose; I know the powerlessness and inutility of it. We can do all we
wish while we live; afterwards we are less than the meanest. You have
only to see what became of my father's will immediately after his death,
and the wills of so many other Kings. I know it well; but nevertheless
they have wished it; they gave me no rest nor repose, no calm until it
was done; ah, well! then, Madame, it is done; come what may of it, I
shall be no longer tormented."

Words such as these so expressive of the extreme violence suffered by the
King, of his long and obstinate battle before surrendering, of his
vexation, and uneasiness, demand the clearest proofs. I had them from
people who heard them, and would not advance them unless I were perfectly
persuaded of their exactness.

As soon as the Chief-President and the Attorney-General returned to
Paris, they sent for some workmen, whom they led into a tower of the
Palace of justice, behind the Buvette, or drinking-place of the grand
chamber and the cabinet of the Chief-President. They had a big hole made
in the wall of this tower, which is very thick, deposited the testament
there, closed up the opening with an iron door, put an iron grating by
way of second door, and then walled all up together. The door and the
grating each had three locks, the same for both; and a different key for
each of the three, which consequently opened each of the two locks, the
one in the door and the one in the grating. The Chief-President kept one
key, the Attorney-General another, and the Chief-Greffier of the
Parliament the third. The Parliament was assembled and the Chief-
President flattered the members as best he might upon the confidence
shown them in entrusting them with this deposit.

At the same time was presented to the Parliament an edict that the Chief-
President and the Attorney-General had received from the hand of the
Chancellor at Versailles the same morning the King had given them his
will, and the edict was registered. It was very short. It declared that
the packet committed to the Chief-President and to the Attorney-General
contained the will of the King, by which he had provided for the
protection and guardianship of the young King, and had chosen a Regency
council, the dispositions of which--for good reasons he had not wished to
publish; that he wished this deposit should be preserved during his life
in the registry of the Parliament, and that at the moment when it should
please God to call him from the world, all the chambers of the
Parliament, all the princes of the royal house, and all the peers who
might be there, should assemble and open the will; and that after it was
read, all its dispositions should be made public and executed, nobody to
be permitted to oppose them in any way.

Notwithstanding all this secrecy, the terms of the will were pretty
generally guessed, and as I have said, the consternation was general.
It was the fate of M. du Maine to obtain what he wished; but always with
the maledictions of the public. This fate did not abandon him now, and
as soon as he felt it, he was overwhelmed, and Madame de Maintenon
exasperated, and their attentions and their care redoubled, to shut up
the King, so that the murmurs of the world should not reach him. They
occupied themselves more than ever to amuse and to please him, and to
fill the air around him with praises, joy, and public adoring at an act
so generous and so grand, and at the same time so wise and so necessary
to the maintenance of good order and tranquillity, which would cause him
to reign so gloriously even after his reign.

This consternation was very natural, and is precisely why the Duc du
Maine found himself deceived and troubled by it. He believed he had
prepared everything, smoothed everything, in rendering M. d'Orleans so
suspected and so odious; he had succeeded, but not so much as he
imagined. His desires and his emissaries had exaggerated everything;
and he found himself overwhelmed with astonishment, when instead of the
public acclamations with which he had flattered himself the will would be
accompanied, it was precisely the opposite.

It was seen very clearly that the will assuredly could not have been made
in favour of M. d'Orleans, and although public feeling against him had in
no way changed, no one was so blind as not to see that he must be Regent
by the incontestable right of his birth; that the dispositions of the
testament could not weaken that right, except by establishing a power
that should balance his; and that thus two parties would be formed in the
state the chief of each of which would be interested in vanquishing the
other, everybody being necessitated to join one side or other, thereby
running a thousand risks without any advantage. The rights of the two
disputants were compared. In the one they were found sacred, in the
other they could not be found at all. The two persons were compared.
Both were found odious, but M. d'Orleans was deemed superior to M. du
Maine. I speak only of the mass of uninstructed people, and of what
presented itself naturally and of itself. The better informed had even
more cause to arrive at the same decision.

M. d'Orleans was stunned by the blow; he felt that it fell directly upon
him, but during the lifetime of the King he saw no remedy for it.
Silence respectful and profound appeared to him the sole course open;
any other would only have led to an increase of precautions. The King
avoided all discourse with him upon this matter; M. du Maine the same.
M. d'Orleans was contented with a simple approving monosyllable to both,
like a courtier who ought not to meddle with anything; and he avoided
conversation upon this subject, even with Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans,
and with anybody else. I was the sole person to whom he dared to unbosom
himself; with the rest of the world he had an open, an ordinary manner,
was on his guard against any discontented sign, and against the curiosity
of all eyes. The inexpressible abandonment in which he was, in the midst
of the Court, guaranteed him at least from all remarks upon the will. It
was not until the health of the King grew more menacing that he began to
speak and be spoken to thereon.

As for M. du Maine, despite his good fortune, he was not to be envied At
Sceaux, where he lived, the Duchesse du Maine, his wife, ruined him by
her extravagance. Sceaux was more than ever the theatre of her follies,
and of the shame and embarrassment of her husband, by the crowd from the
Court and the town, which abounded there and laughed at them. She
herself played there Athalie (assisted by actors and actresses) and other
pieces several times a week. Whole nights were passed in coteries,
games, fetes, illuminations, fireworks, in a word, fancies and fripperies
of every kind and every day. She revelled in the joy of her new
greatness--redoubled her follies; and the Duc du Maine, who always
trembled before her, and who, moreover, feared that the slightest
contradiction would entirely turn her brain, suffered all this, even
piteously doing the honours as often as he could without ceasing in his
conduct to the King.

However great might be his joy, whatever the unimaginable greatness to
which he had arrived, he was not tranquil. Like those tyrants who have
usurped by their crimes the sovereign power, and who fear as so many
conspiring enemies all their fallen citizens they have enslaved--he felt
as though seated under that sword that Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse,
suspended by a hair over his table, above the head of a man whom he
placed there because he believed him happy, and in this manner wished to
make him feel what passed unceasingly in himself. M. du Maine, who
willingly expressed in pleasantry the most serious things, frankly said
to his familiars, that he was "like a louse between two fingernails" (the
Princes of the blood and the peers), by which he could not fail to be
cracked if he did not take care! This reflection troubled the excess of
his pleasure, and that of the greatness and the power to which so many
artifices had elevated him. He feared the Princes of the blood as soon
as they should be of age to feel the infamy and the danger of the wound
he had given them; he feared the Parliament, which even under his eyes
had not been able to dissimulate its indignation at the violence he had
committed against the most holy and the most inviolable laws; he even
feared the Dukes so timid are injustice and tyranny!


Let me return to Maisons. Five days after the King's will had been
walled up, in the manner I have described, he came to me and made a
pathetic discourse upon the injustice done to M. le Duc d'Orleans by this
testament, and did all he could to excite me by railing in good set terms
against dispositions intended to add to the power and grandeur of the

When he had well harangued, I said he had told me nothing new; that I saw
the same truths as he with the same evidence; that the worst thing I
found was that there was no remedy.

"No remedy!" he exclaimed, interrupting me, with his sly and cunning
laugh; "courage and ability can always find one for everything, and I am
astonished that you, who have both, should have nothing to suggest while
everybody is going to confusion."

I asked him how it was possible to suppress a will registered by edict; a
document solemn and public deposited with ceremony in the very depths of
the palace, with precautions known to everybody--nature and art combining
to keep it in safety?

"You are at a loss to know!" replied Maisons to me. "Have ready at the
instant of the King's death sure troops and sensible officers, all ready
and well instructed; and with them, masons and lock-smiths--march to the
palace, break open the doors and the wall, carry off the will, and let it
never be seen."

In my extreme surprise I asked him, what he expected would be the fruit
of such violence? I pointed out that to seize by force of arms a public
and solemn document, in the midst of the capital, in despite of all--all
law and order, would be to put weapons into the hands of the enemies of
M. le Duc d'Orleans, who assuredly would be justified in crying out
against this outrage, and who would find the whole country disposed to
echo their cries. I said too, that if in the execution of such an odious
scheme a sedition occurred, and blood were shed, universal hatred and
opprobrium would fall upon the head of M, le Duc d'Orleans, and
deservedly so.

We carried on our discussion a long time, but Maisons would in no way
give up his scheme. After leaving me he went to M. le Duc d'Orleans and
communicated it to him. Happily it met with no success with the Duke,
indeed, he was extremely astonished at it; but what astonished us more
was, that Maisons persisted in it up to his death, which preceded by some
few days that of the King, and pressed it upon M. le Duc d'Orleans and
myself till his importunity became persecution.

It was certainly not his fault that I over and over again refused to go
to the Grand Chamber of the Parliament to examine the place, as Maisons
wished me to do; I who never went to the Parliament except for the
reception of the peers or when the King was there. Not being able to
vanquish what he called my obstinacy, Maisons begged me at the least to
go and fix myself upon the Quai de la Megisserie, where so much old iron
is sold, and examine from that spot the tower where the will was; he
pointed it out to me; it looked out upon the Quai des Morforidus, but was
behind the buildings on the quai. What information could be obtained
from such a point of view may be imagined. I promised to go there, not
to stop, and thus awake the attention of the passers-by, but to pass
along and see what was to be seen; adding, that it as simply out of
complaisance to him, and not because I meant to agree in any way to his
enterprise. What is incomprehensible is, that for a whole year Maisons
pressed his charming project upon us. The worst enemy of M. le Duc
d'Orleans could not have devised a more rash and ridiculous undertaking.
I doubt whether many people would have been found in all Paris
sufficiently deprived of sense to fall in with it. What are we to think
then of a Parliamentary President of such consideration as Maisons had
acquired at the Palace of justice, at the Court, in the town, where he
had always passed for a man of intellect, prudent, circumspect,
intelligent, capable, measured? Was he vile enough, in concert with M.
du Maine, to open this gulf beneath our feet, to push us to our ruin, and
by the fall of M. le Duc d'Orleans--the sole prince of the blood old
enough to be Regent--to put M. le Duc du Maine in his place, from which
to the crown there was only one step, as none are ignorant, left to be
taken? It seems by no means impossible: M. du Maine, that son of
darkness, was, judging him by what he had already done, quite capable of
adding this new crime to his long list.

The mystery was, however, never explained. Maisons died before its
darkness could be penetrated. His end was terrible. He had no religion;
his father had had none. He married a sister of the Marechal de Villars,
who was in the same case. Their only son they specially educated in
unbelief. Nevertheless, everything seemed to smile upon them. They had
wealth, consideration, distinguished friends. But mark the end.

Maisons is slightly unwell. He takes rhubarb twice or thrice,
unseasonably; more unseasonably comes Cardinal de Bissy to him, to talk
upon the constitution, and thus hinder the operation of the rhubarb; his
inside seems on fire, but he will not believe himself ill; the progress
of his disease is great in a few hours; the doctors, though soon at their
wits' ends, dare not say so; the malady visibly increases; his whole
household is in confusion; he dies, forty-eight years of age, midst of a
crowd of friends, of clients, without the power or leisure to think for a
moment what is going to happen to his soul!

His wife survives him ten or twelve years, opulent, and in consideration,
when suddenly she has an attack of apoplexy in her garden. Instead of
thinking of her state, and profiting by leisure, she makes light of her
illness, has another attack a few days after, and is carried off on the
5th of May, 1727, in her forty-sixth year, without having had a moment

Her son, for a long time much afflicted, seeks to distinguish himself and
acquire friends. Taking no warning from what has occurred, he thinks
only of running after the fortune of this world, and is surprised at
Paris by the small-pox. He believes himself dead, thinks of what he has
neglected all his life, but fear suddenly seizes him, and he dies in the
midst of it, on the 13th of September, 1731, leaving an only son, who
dies a year after him, eighteen months old, all the great wealth of the
family going to collateral relatives.

These Memoirs are not essays on morality, therefore I have contented
myself with the most simple and the most naked recital of facts; but I
may, perhaps, be permitted to apply here those two verses of the 37th
Psalm, which appear so expressly made for the purpose: "I have seen the
impious exalted like the cedars of Lebanon: Yea, he passed away, and, lo,
he was not; yea, I sought him, but he could not be found."

But let me leave this subject now, to treat of other matters. On Friday,
the last day of August, I lost one of the best and most revered of
friends, the Duc de Beavilliers. He died at Vaucresson after an illness
of about two months, his intellect clear to the last, aged sixty-six
years, having been born on the 24th of Oct 1648.

He was the son of M. de Saint-Aignan, who with honour and valour was
truly romantic in gallantry, in belles-lettres, and in arms. He was
Captain of the Guards of Gaston, and at the end of 1649 bought of the Duc
de Liancourt the post of first-gentleman of the King's chamber. He
commanded afterwards in Berry against the party of M. le Prince, and
served elsewhere subsequently. In 1661 he was made Chevalier of the
Order, and in 1661 Duke and Peer. His first wife he lost in 1679. At
the end of a year he married one of her chambermaids, who had been first
of all engaged to take care of her dogs. She was so modest, and he so
shamefaced, that in despite of repeated pressing on the part of the King,
she could not be induced to take her tabouret. She lived in much
retirement, and had so many virtues that she made herself respected all
her life, which was long. M. de Beauvilliers was one of the children of
the first marriage. I know not what care M. and Madame de Saint-Aignan
took of the others, but they left him, until he was six or seven years of
age, to the mercy of their lodge-keeper. Then he was confided to the
care of a canon of Notre Dame de Clery. The household of the canon
consisted of one maid-servant, with whom the little boy slept; and they
continued to sleep together until he was fourteen or fifteen years old,
without either of them thinking of evil, or the canon remarking that the
lad was growing into a man. The death of his eldest brother called
M. de Beauvilliers home. He entered the army, served with distinction at
the head of is regiment of cavalry, and was brigadier.

He was tall, thin, had a long and ruddy face, a large aquiline nose, a
sunken mouth, expressive, piercing eyes, an agreeable smile, a very
gentle manner but ordinarily retiring, serious, and concentrated. B
disposition he was hasty, hot, passionate, fond of pleasure. Ever since
God had touched him, which happened early in his life, he had become
gentle, mildest, humble, kind, enlightened, charitable, and always full
of real piety and goodness. In private, where he was free, he was gay,
joked, and bantered pleasantly, and laughed with good heart. He liked to
be made fun of there was only the story of his sleeping with the canon's
servant that wounded his modesty, and I have seen him embarrassed when
Madame de Beauvilliers has related it,--smiling, however, but praying her
sometimes not to tell it. His piety, which, as I have said, commenced
early in life, separated him from companions of his own age. At the army
one day, during a promenade of the King, he walked alone, a little in
front. Some one remarked it, and observed, sneeringly, that "he was
meditating." The King, who heard this, turned towards the speaker, and,
looking at him, said, "Yes, 'tis M. de Beauvilliers, one of the best men
of the Court, and of my realm." This sudden and short apology caused
silence, and food for reflection, so that the fault-finders remained in
respect before his merit.

The King must have entertained a high regard for him, to give him, in
1670, the very delicate commission he entrusted to him. Madame had just
been so openly poisoned, the conviction was so complete and so general
that it was very difficult to palliate it. Our King and the King of
England, between whom she had just become a stronger bond, by the journey
she had made into England, were penetrated by grief and indignation, and
the English could not contain themselves. The King chose the Duc de
Beauvilliers to carry his compliments of condolence to the King of
England, and under this pretext to try to prevent this misfortune
interfering with their friendship and their union, and to calm the fury
of London and the nation. The King was not deceived: the prudent
dexterity of the Duc de Beauvilliers brought round the King of England,
and even appeased London and the nation.

M. de Beauvilliers had expressed a wish to be buried at Montargis, in the
Benedictine monastery, where eight of his daughters had become nuns.
Madame de Beauvilliers went there, and by an act of religion, terrible to
think of, insisted upon being present at the interment. She retired to
her house at Paris, where during the rest of her life she lived in
complete solitude, without company or amusement of any kind. For nearly
twenty years she remained there, and died in 1733, seventy-five years of
age, infinitely rich in alms and all sorts of good works.

The King taxed the infantry regiments, which had risen to an excessive
price. This venality of the only path by which the superior grades can
be reached is a great blot upon the military system, and stops the career
of many a man who would become an excellent soldier. It is a gangrene
which for a long time has eaten into all the orders and all the parties
of the state, and under which it will be odd if all do not succumb.
Happily it is unknown, or little known, in all the other countries of

Towards the end of this year Cardinal d'Estrees died in Paris at his
abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, nearly eighty-seven years of age, having
always enjoyed perfect health of body and mind until this illness, which
was very short, and which left his intellect clear to the last. It is
proper and curious to pause for a moment upon a personage, all his life
of importance, and who at his death was Cardinal, Bishop of Albano, Abbe
of Longpont, of Mount Saint-Eloi, of Saint-Nichoas-aux-Bois, of La
Staffarde in Piedmont (where Catinat gained a celebrated battle before
being Marechal of France), of Saint-Claude in Franche-Comte, of Anchin in
Flanders, and of Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris. He was also Commander
of the Order of the promotion of 1688.

Merit, aided by the chances of fortune, made out of an obscure family of
the Boulonais country, a singularly illustrious race in the fourth
generation, of which Mademoiselle de Tourbes alone remains. The
Cardinal, brother of the last Marechal d'Estrees, their uncle, used to
say; that he knew his fathers as far as the one who had been page of
Queen Anne, Duchess of Brittany; but beyond that he knew nothing, and it
was not worth while searching. Gabrielle d'Estrees, mistress of Henry
IV., whose beauty made her father's fortune, and whose history is too
well known to be here alluded to, was sister of the Cardinal's father,
but died thirty years before he was born. It was through her that the
family became elevated. The father of Cardinal d'Estrees was
distinguished all his life by his merit, his capacity, and the authority
and elevated posts he held. He was made Marshal of France in 1626, and
it is a thing unique that he, his son, and his grandson were not only
Marshals of France, but all three were in succession seniors of that
corps for a long time.

The Cardinal d'Estrees was born in 1627, and for forty years lived with
his father, profiting by his lessons and his consideration. He was of
the most agreeable manners, handsome, well made, full of humour, wit, and
ability; in society the pleasantest person in the world, and yet well
instructed; indeed, of rare erudition, generous, obliging, dignified,
incapable of meanness, he was with so much talent and so many great and
amiable qualities generally loved and respected, and deserved to be. He
was made Cardinal in 1671, but was not declared until after many delays
had occurred. These delays much disturbed him. It was customary, then,
to pay more visits. One evening the Abbe de la Victoire, one of his
friends, and very witty, arrived very late at a supper, in a house where
he was expected. The company inopportunely asked him where he had been,
and what had delayed him.

"Alas!" replied the Abbe, in a tone of sadness, "where have I been? I
have been all day accompanying the body of poor M. de Laon." [The
Cardinal d'Estrees was then Bishop and Duke of Laon.]

"M. de Laon!" cried everybody, "M. de Laon dead! Why, he was quite well
yesterday. 'Tis dreadful. Tell us what has happened."

"What has happened?" replied the Abbe, still with the same tone. "Why,
he took me with him when he paid his visits, and though his body was with
me, his spirit was at Rome, so that I quitted him very wearied." At this
recital grief changed into merriment.

That grand dinner at Fontainebleau for the Prince of Tuscany, at which
the Prince was to be the only guest, and yet never received his
invitation from the Cardinal, I have already mentioned. He was
oftentimes thus absent, but never when business or serious matters were
concerned, so that his forgetfulness was amusing. He never could bear to
hear of his domestic affairs. Pressed and tormented by his steward and
his maitre d'hotel to overlook their accounts, that he had not seen for
many years, he appointed a day to be devoted to them. The two financiers
demanded that he should close his door so as not to be interrupted; he
consented with difficulty, then changed his mind, and said that if
Cardinal Bonzi came he must be admitted, but that it was not likely he
would come on that particular day. Directly afterwards he sent a trusty
servant to Cardinal Bonzi, entreating him to come on such and such a day,
between three and four o'clock, conjuring him not to fail, and begging
him above all to come as of his own accord, the reason to be explained
afterwards. On the appointed day Cardinal d'Estrees told his porter to
let no one enter in the afternoon except Cardinal Bonzi, who assuredly
was not likely to come, but who was not to be sent away if he did. His
people, delighted at having their master to themselves all day without
interruption, arrived about three o'clock; the Cardinal quitted his
family and the few friends who had that day dined with him, and passed
into a cabinet where his business people laid out their papers. He said
a thousand absurdities to them upon his expenditure, of which he
understood nothing, and unceasingly looked towards the window, without
appearing to do so, secretly sighing for a prompt deliverance. A little
before four o'clock, a coach arrived in the court-yard; his business
people, enraged with the porter, exclaimed that there will then be no
more opportunity for working. The Cardinal in delight referred to the
orders he had given. "You will see," he added, "that it is Cardinal
Bonzi, the only man I excepted, and who, of all days in the world, comes

Immediately afterwards, the Cardinal was announced, and the intendant and
maitre d'hotel were forced to make off with their papers and their table.
As soon as he was alone with Bonzi, he explained why he had requested
this visit, and both laughed heartily. Since then his business people
have never caught him again, never during the rest of his life would he
hear speak of them.

He must have had honest people about him; for every day his table was
magnificent, and filled at Paris and at the Court with the best company.
His equipages were so, also; he had numberless domestics, many gentlemen,
chaplains, and secretaries. He gave freely to the poor, and to his
brother the Marechal and his children (who were not well off), and yet
died without owing a crown to a living soul.

His death, for which he had been long prepared, was fine-edifying and
very Christian-like. He was universally regretted. A joke of his with
the King is still remembered. One day, at dinner, where he always paid
much attention to the Cardinal, the King complained of the inconvenience
he felt in no longer having teeth.

"Teeth, sire!" replied the Cardinal; "why, who has any teeth?"

The joke is that the Cardinal, though old, still had very white and very
beautiful teeth, and that his mouth, large, but agreeable, was so shaped
that it showed them plainly in speaking. Therefore the King burst out
laughing at this reply, and all present also, including the Cardinal, who
was not in the slightest degree embarrassed. I might go on forever
telling about him, but enough, perhaps, has been already said.

The commencement of the new year, 1715, was marked by the death of
Fenelon, at Cambrai, where he had lived in disgrace so many years. I
have already said something about him, so that I have now but little to
add. His life at Cambrai was remarkable for the assiduity with which he
attended to the spiritual and temporal wants of his flock. He was
indefatigable in the discharge of his functions, and in endeavouring to
gain all hearts. Cambrai is a place much frequented; through which many
people pass. During the war the number of wounded soldiers he had
received into his house or attended to in the hospitals passes all
belief. He spared nothing for them, neither physical comforts nor
spiritual consolations. Thus it is incredible to what an extent he
became the idol of the whole army. His manners, to high and low, were
most affable, yet everywhere he was the prelate, the gentleman, the
author of "Telemachus." He ruled his diocese with a gentle hand, in no
way meddled with the Jansenists; he left all untouched. Take him for all
in all, he had a bright genius and was a great man. His admiration true
or feigned for Madame Guyon remained to the last, yet always without
suspicion of impropriety. He had so exactly arranged his affairs that he
died without money, and yet without owing a sou to anybody.



The reign of Louis XIV. was approaching its conclusion, so that there is
now nothing more to relate but what passed during the last month of his
life, and scarcely so much. These events, indeed, so curious and so
important, are so mixed up with those that immediately followed the
King's death, that they cannot be separated from them. It will be
interesting and is necessary to describe the projects, the thoughts, the
difficulties, the different resolutions, which occupied the brain of the
Prince, who, despite the efforts of Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine,
was of necessity about to be called to the head of affairs during the
minority of the young King. This is the place, therefore, to explain all
these things, after which we will resume the narrative of the last month
of the King's life, and go on to the events which followed his death.

But, as I have said, before entering upon this thorny path, it will be as
well to make known, if possible, the chief personage of the story, the
impediments interior and exterior in his path, and all that personally
belonged to him.

M. le Duc d'Orleans was, at the most, of mediocre stature, full-bodied
without being fat; his manner and his deportment were easy and very
noble; his face was broad and very agreeable, high in colour; his hair
black, and wig the same. Although he danced very badly, and had but ill
succeeded at the riding-school, he had in his face, in his gestures, in
all his movements, infinite grace, and so natural that it adorned even
his most ordinary commonplace actions. With much ease when nothing
constrained him, he was gentle, affable, open, of facile and charming
access; the tone of his voice was agreeable, and he had a surprisingly
easy flow of words upon all subjects which nothing ever disturbed, and
which never failed to surprise; his eloquence was natural and extended
even to his most familiar discourse, while it equally entered into his
observations upon the most abstract sciences, on which he talked most
perspicuously; the affairs of government, politics, finance, justice,
war, the court, ordinary conversation, the arts, and mechanics. He could
speak as well too upon history and memoirs, and was well acquainted with
pedigrees. The personages of former days were familiar to him; and the
intrigues of the ancient courts were to him as those of his own time.
To hear him, you would have thought him a great reader. Not so. He
skimmed; but his memory was so singular that he never forgot things,
names, or dates, cherishing remembrance of things with precision; and his
apprehension was so good, that in skimming thus it was, with him,
precisely as though he had read very laboriously. He excelled in
unpremeditated discourse, which, whether in the shape of repartee or
jest, was always appropriate and vivacious. He often reproached me, and
others more than he, with "not spoiling him;" but I often gave him praise
merited by few, and which belonged to nobody so justly as to him; it was,
that besides having infinite ability and of various kinds, the singular
perspicuity of his mind was joined to so much exactness, that he would
never have made a mistake in anything if he had allowed the first
suggestions of his judgment. He oftentimes took this my eulogy as a
reproach, and he was not always wrong, but it was not the less true.
With all this he had no presumption, no trace of superiority natural or
acquired; he reasoned with you as with his equal, and struck the most
able with surprise. Although he never forgot his own position, nor
allowed others to forget it, he carried no constraint with him, but put
everybody at his ease, and placed himself upon the level of all others.

He had the weakness to believe that he resembled Henry IV. in
everything, and strove to affect the manners, the gestures, the bearing,
of that monarch. Like Henry IV. he was naturally good, humane,
compassionate; and, indeed, this man, who has been so cruelly accused of
the blackest and most inhuman crimes, was more opposed to the destruction
of others than any one I have ever known, and had such a singular dislike
to causing anybody pain that it may be said, his gentleness, his
humanity, his easiness, had become faults; and I do not hesitate to
affirm that that supreme virtue which teaches us to pardon our enemies he
turned into vice, by the indiscriminate prodigality with which he applied
it; thereby causing himself many sad embarrassments and misfortunes,
examples and proofs of which will be seen in the sequel.

I remember that about a year, perhaps, before the death of the King,
having gone up early after dinner into the apartments of Madame la
Duchesse d'Orleans at Marly, I found her in bed with the megrims,
and M. d'Orleans alone in the room, seated in an armchair at her pillow.
Scarcely had I sat down than Madame la Duchesse began to talk of some of
those execrable imputations concerning M. d'Orleans unceasingly
circulated by Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine; and of an incident
arising therefrom, in which the Prince and the Cardinal de Rohan had
played a part against M. d'Orleans. I sympathised with her all the more
because the Duke, I knew not why, had always distinguished and courted
those two brothers, and thought he could count upon them. "And what will
you say of M. d'Orleans," added the Duchesse, "when I tell you that since
he has known this, known it beyond doubt, he treats them exactly the same
as before?"

I looked at M. d'Orleans, who had uttered only a few words to confirm the
story, as it was being told, and who was negligently lolling in his
chair, and I said to him with warmth:

"Oh, as to that, Monsieur, the truth must be told; since Louis the
Debonnaire, never has there been such a Debonnaire as you."

At these words he rose in his chair, red with anger to the very whites of
his eyes, and blurted out his vexation against me for abusing him, as he
pretended, and against Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans for encouraging me
and laughing at him.

"Go on," said I, "treat your enemies well, and rail at your friends. I
am delighted to see you angry. It is a sign that I have touched the sore
point, when you press the finger on it the patient cries. I should like
to squeeze out all the matter, and after that you would be quite another
man, and differently esteemed."

He grumbled a little more, and then calmed down. This was one of two
occasions only, on which he was ever really angry with me.

Two or three years after the death of the King, I was chatting in one of
the grand rooms of the Tuileries, where the Council of the Regency was,
according to custom, soon to be held, and M. d'Orleans at the other end
was talking to some one in a window recess. I heard myself called from
mouth to mouth, and was told that M. d'Orleans wished to speak to me.
This often happened before the Council. I went therefore to the window
where he was standing. I found a serious bearing, a concentrated manner,
an angry face, and was much surprised.

"Monsieur," said he to me at once, "I have a serious complaint against
you; you, whom I have always regarded as my best of friends."

"Against me! Monsieur!" said I, still more surprised. "What is the
matter, then, may I ask?"

"The matter!" he replied with a mien still more angry; "something you
cannot deny; verses you have made against me."

"I--verses!" was my reply. "Why, who the devil has been telling you such
nonsense? You have been acquainted with me nearly forty years, and do
you not know, that never in my life have I been able to make a single
verse--much less verses?"

"No, no, by Heaven," replied he, "you cannot deny these;" and forthwith
he began to sing to me a street song in his praise, the chorus of which
was: 'Our Regent is debonnaire, la la, he is debonnaire,' with a burst of

"What!" said I, "you remember it still!" and smiling, I added also,
"since you are revenged for it, remember it in good earnest." He kept on
laughing a long time before going to the Council, and could not hinder
himself. I have not been afraid to write this trifle, because it seems
to me that it paints the man.

M. d'Orleans loved liberty, and as much for others as for himself. He
extolled England to me one day on this account, as a country where there
are no banishments, no lettres de cachet, and where the King may close
the door of his palace to anybody, but can keep no one in prison; and
thereupon related to me with enjoyment, that besides the Duchess of
Portsmouth, Charles the Second had many subordinate mistresses; that the
Grand Prieur, young and amiable in those days, driven out of France for
some folly, had gone to England to pass his exile and had been well
received by the King. By way of thanks, he seduced one of those
mistresses, by whom the King was then so smitten, that he sued for mercy,
offered money to the Grand Prieur, and undertook to obtain his
reconciliation in France. The Grand Prieur held firm. Charles
prohibited him the palace. He laughed at this, and went every day to the
theatre, with his conquest, and placed himself opposite the King. At
last, Charles, not knowing what to do to deliver himself from his
tormentor, begged our King to recall him, and this was done. But the
Grand Prieur said he was very comfortable in England and continued his
game. Charles, outraged, confided to the King (Louis XIV.) the state he
was thrown into by the Grand Prieur, and obtained a command so absolute
and so prompt, that his tormentor was afterwards obliged to go back into

M. d'Orleans admired this; and I know not if he would not have wished to
be the Grand Prieur. He always related this story with delight. Thus,
of ambition for reigning or governing, he had none. If he made a false
move in Spain it was because he had been misdirected. What he would have
liked best would have been to command armies while war lasted, and divert
himself the rest of the time without constraint to himself or to others.
He was, in fact, very fit for this. With much valour, he had also much
foresight, judgment, coolness, and vast capacity. It may be said that he
was captain, engineer, and army purveyor; that he knew the strength of
his troops, the names and the company of the officers, and the most
distinguished of each corps; that he knew how to make himself adored, at
the same time keeping up discipline, and could execute the most difficult
things, while unprovided with everything. Unfortunately there is another
side of this picture, which it will be as well now to describe.

M. d'Orleans, by disposition so adapted to become the honour and the
master-piece of an education, was not fortunate in his teachers. Saint-
Laurent, to whom he was first confided, was, it is true, the man in all
Europe best fitted to act as the instructor of kings, but he died before
his pupil was beyond the birch, and the young Prince, as I have related,
fell entirely into the hands of the Abbe Dubois. This person has played
such an important part in the state since the death of the King, that it
is fit that he should be made known. The Abbe Dubois was a little,
pitiful, wizened, herring-gutted man, in a flaxen wig, with a weazel's
face, brightened by some intellect. In familiar terms, he was a regular
scamp. All the vices unceasingly fought within him for supremacy, so
that a continual uproar filled his mind. Avarice, debauchery, ambition;
were his gods; perfidy, flattery, foot-licking his means of action;
complete impiety was his repose; and he held the opinion as a great
principle, that probity and honesty are chimeras, with which people deck
themselves, but which have no existence. In consequence, all means were
good to him. He excelled in low intrigues; he lived in them, and could
not do without them; but they always had an aim, and he followed them
with a patience terminated only by success, or by firm conviction that he
could not reach what he aimed at, or unless, as he wandered thus in deep
darkness, a glimmer of light came to him from some other cranny. He
passed thus his days in sapping and counter-sapping. The most impudent
deceit had become natural to him, and was concealed under an air that was
simple, upright, sincere, often bashful. He would have spoken with grace
and forcibly, if, fearful of saying more than he wished, he had not
accustomed himself to a fictitious hesitation, a stuttering--which
disfigured his speech, and which, redoubled when important things were in
question, became insupportable and sometimes unintelligible. He had wit,
learning, knowledge of the world; much desire to please and insinuate
himself, but all was spoiled by an odour of falsehood which escaped in
spite of him through every pore of his body--even in the midst of his
gaiety, which made whoever beheld it sad. Wicked besides, with
reflection, both by nature and by argument, treacherous and ungrateful,
expert in the blackest villainies, terribly brazen when detected; he
desired everything, envied everything, and wished to seize everything.
It was known afterwards, when he no longer could restrain himself, to
what an extent he was selfish, debauched, inconsistent, ignorant of
everything, passionate, headstrong, blasphemous and mad, and to what an
extent he publicly despised his master, the state, and all the world,
never hesitating to sacrifice everybody and everything to his credit, his
power, his absolute authority, his greatness, his avarice, his fears, and
his vengeance.

Such was the sage to whom M. le Duc d'Orleans was confided in early

Such a good master did not lose his pains with his new disciple, in whom
the excellent principles of Saint-Laurent had not had time to take deep
root, whatever esteem and affection he may have preserved through life
for that worthy man. I will admit here, with bitterness, for everything
should be sacrificed to the truth, that M. le Duc d'Orleans brought into
the world a failing--let us call things by their names--a weakness, which
unceasingly spoiled all his talents, and which were of marvellous use to
his preceptor all his life. Dubois led him into debauchery, made him
despise all duty and all decency, and persuaded him that he had too much
mind to be the dupe of religion, which he said was a politic invention to


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