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

Part 7 out of 20

fruits were partaken of as at a fete, and a profusion of all sorts of
liqueurs. Expense ruined the officers, who vied with one another in
their endeavours to appear magnificent; and the things to be carried, the
work to be done, quadrupled the number of domestics and grooms, who often
starved. For a long time, people had complained of all this; even those
who were put to the expenses, which ruined them; but none dared to spend
less. At last, that is to say, in the spring of the following year, the
King made severe rules, with the object of bringing about a reform in
this particular. There is no country in Europe where there are so many
fine laws, or where the observance of them is of shorter duration. It
often happens, that in the first year all are infringed, and in the
second, forgotten. Such was the army at this time, and we soon had
abundant opportunities to note its incapacity to overcome the enemies
with whom we had to contend.

The King wished to open this campaign with two battles; one in Italy, the
other in Flanders. His desire was to some extent gratified in the former
case; but in the other he met with a sad and cruel disappointment. Since
the departure of Marechal de Villeroy for Flanders, the King had more
than once pressed him to engage the enemy. The Marechal, piqued with
these reiterated orders, which he considered as reflections upon his
courage, determined to risk anything in order to satisfy the desire of
the King. But the King did not wish this. At the same time that he
wished for a battle in Flanders, he wished to place Villeroy in a state
to fight it. He sent orders, therefore, to Marsin to take eighteen
battalions and twenty squadrons of his army, to proceed to the Moselle,
where he would find twenty others, and then to march with the whole into
Flanders, and join Marechal de Villeroy. At the same time he prohibited
the latter from doing anything until this reinforcement reached him.
Four couriers, one after the other, carried this prohibition to the
Marechal; but he had determined to give battle without assistance, and he
did so, with what result will be seen.

On the 24th of May he posted himself between the villages of Taviers and
Ramillies. He was superior in force to the Duke of Marlborough, who was
opposed to him, and this fact gave him confidence. Yet the position
which he had taken up was one which was well known to be bad. The late
M. de Luxembourg had declared it so, and had avoided it. M. de Villeroy
had been a witness of this, but it was his destiny and that of France
that he should forget it. Before he took up this position he announced
that it was his intention to do so to M. d'Orleans. M. d'Orleans said
publicly to all who came to listen, that if M. de Villeroy did so he
would be beaten. M. d'Orleans proved to be only too good a prophet.

Just as M. de Villeroy had taken up his position and made his
arrangements, the Elector arrived in hot haste from Brussels. It was
too late now to blame what had been done. There was nothing for it but
to complete what had been already begun, and await the result.

It was about two hours after midday when the enemy arrived within range,
and came under our fire from Ramillies. It forced them to halt until
their cannon could be brought into play, which was soon done. The
cannonade lasted a good hour. At the end of that time they marched to
Taviers, where a part of our army was posted, found but little
resistance, and made themselves masters of that place. From that moment
they brought their cavalry to bear. They perceived that there was a
marsh which covered our left, but which hindered our two wings from
joining. They made good use of the advantage this gave them. We were
taken in the rear at more than one point, and Taviers being no longer
able to assist us, Ramillies itself fell, after a prodigious fire and an
obstinate resistance. The Comte de Guiche at the head of the regiment of
Guards defended it for four hours, and performed prodigies, but in the
end he was obliged to give way. All this time our left had been utterly
useless with its nose in the marsh, no enemy in front of it, and with
strict orders not to budge from its position.

[Illustration: Marlborough At Ramillies--Painted by R. Canton Woodville--418]

Our retreat commenced in good order, but soon the night came and threw us
into confusion. The defile of Judoigne became so gorged with baggage and
with the wrecks of the artillery we had been able to save, that
everything was taken from us there. Nevertheless, we arrived at Louvain,
and then not feeling in safety, passed the canal of Wilworde without
being very closely followed by the enemy.

We lost in this battle four thousand men, and many prisoners of rank, all
of whom were treated with much politeness by Marlborough. Brussels was
one of the first-fruits he gathered of this victory, which had such grave
and important results.

The King did not learn this disaster until Wednesday, the 26th of May,
at his waking. I was at Versailles. Never was such trouble or such
consternation. The worst was, that only the broad fact was known; for
six days we were without a courier to give us details. Even the post was
stopped. Days seemed like years in the ignorance of everybody as to
details, and in the inquietude of everybody for relatives and friends.
The King was forced to ask one and another for news; but nobody could
tell him any. Worn out at last by the silence, he determined to despatch
Chamillart to Flanders to ascertain the real state of affairs.
Chamillart accordingly left Versailles on Sunday, the 30th of May, to the
astonishment of all the Court, at seeing a man charged with the war and
the finance department sent on such an errand. He astonished no less the
army when he arrived at Courtrai, where it had stationed itself. Having
gained all the information he sought, Chamillart returned to Versailles
on Friday, the 4th of June, at about eight o'clock in the evening, and at
once went to the King, who was in the apartments of Madame de Maintenon.
It was known then that the army, after several hasty marches, finding
itself at Ghent, the Elector of Bavaria had insisted that it ought at
least to remain there. A council of war was held, the Marechal de
Villeroy, who was quite discouraged by the loss he had sustained, opposed
the advice of the Elector. Ghent was abandoned, so was the open country.
The army was separated and distributed here and there, under the command
of the general officers. In this way, with the exception of Namur, Mons,
and a very few other places, all the Spanish Low Countries were lost, and
a part of ours, even. Never was rapidity equal to this. The enemies
were as much astonished as we.

However tranquilly the King sustained in appearance this misfortune, he
felt it to the quick. He was so affected by what was said of his body-
guards, that he spoke of them himself with bitterness. Court warriors
testified in their favour, but persuaded nobody. But the King seized
these testimonies with joy, and sent word to the Guards that he was well
contended with them. Others, however, were not so easily satisfied.

This sad reverse and the discontent of the Elector made the King feel at
last that his favourites must give way to those better able to fill their
places. Villeroy, who, since his defeat, had quite lost his head, and
who, if he had been a general of the Empire, would have lost it in
reality in another manner, received several strong hints from the King
that he ought to give up his command. But he either could not or would
not understand them, and so tired out the King's patience, at length.
But he was informed in language which admitted of no misapprehension that
he must return. Even then, the King was so kindly disposed towards him,
that he said the Marechal had begged to be recalled with such obstinacy
that he could not refuse him. But M. de Villeroy was absurd enough to
reject this salve for his honour; which led to his disgrace. M. de
Vendome had orders to leave Italy, and succeed to the command in
Flanders, where the enemies had very promptly taken Ostend and Nieuport.


Meanwhile, as I have promised to relate, in a continuous narrative, all
our military operations of this year, let me say what passed in other
directions. The siege of Barcelona made no progress. Our engineers were
so slow and so ignorant, that they did next to nothing. They were so
venal, too, that they aided the enemy rather than us by their movements.
According to a new rule made by the King, whenever they changed the
position of their guns, they were entitled to a pecuniary recompense.
Accordingly, they passed all their time in uselessly changing about from
place to place, in order to receive the recompense which thus became due
to them.

Our fleet, too, hearing that a much superior naval force was coming to
the assistance of the enemy, and being, thanks to Pontchartrain, utterly
unable to meet it, was obliged to weigh anchor, and sailed away to
Toulon. The enemy's fleet arrived, and the besieged at once took new
courage. Tesse, who had joined the siege, saw at once that it was
useless to continue it. We had for some time depended upon the open sea
for supplies. Now that the English fleet had arrived, we could depend
upon the sea no longer. The King of Spain saw, at last, that there was
no help for it but to raise the siege.

It was raised accordingly on the night between the 10th and 11th of May,
after fourteen days' bombardment. We abandoned one hundred pieces of
artillery; one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of powder; thirty
thousand sacks of flour; twenty thousand sacks of sevade, a kind of oats;
and a great number of bombs, cannon-balls, and implements. As Catalonia
was in revolt, it was felt that retreat could not take place in that
direction; it was determined, therefore, to retire by the way of the
French frontier. For eight days, however, our troops were harassed in
flank and rear by Miquelets, who followed us from mountain to mountain.
It was not until the Duc de Noailles, whose father had done some service
to the chiefs of these Miquelets, had parleyed with them, and made terms
with them, that our troops were relieved from these cruel wasps. We
suffered much loss in our retreat, which, with the siege, cost us full
four thousand men. The army stopped at Roussillon, and the King of
Spain, escorted by two regiments of dragoons, made the best of his way to
Madrid. That city was itself in danger from the Portuguese, and, indeed,
fell into their hands soon after. The Queen, who, with her children, had
left it in time to avoid capture, felt matters to be in such extremity,
that she despatched all the jewels belonging to herself and her husband
to France. They were placed in the custody of the King. Among them was
that famous pear-shaped pearl called the Peregrine, which, for its
weight, its form, its size, and its water, is beyond all price and all

The King of Spain effected a junction with the army of Berwick, and both
set to work to reconquer the places the Portuguese had taken from them.
In this they were successful. The Portuguese, much harassed by the
people of Castille, were forced to abandon all they had gained; and the
King of Spain was enabled to enter Madrid towards the end of September,
where he was received with much rejoicing.

In Italy we experienced the most disastrous misfortunes. M. de Vendome,
having been called from the command to go into Flanders, M. d'Orleans,
after some deliberation, was appointed to take his place. M. d'Orleans
set out from Paris on the 1st of July, with twenty-eight horses and five
chaises, to arrive in three days at Lyons, and then to hasten on into
Italy. La Feuillade was besieging Turin. M. d'Orleans went to the
siege. He was magnificently received by La Feuillade, and shown all over
the works. He found everything defective. La Feuillade was very young,
and very inexperienced. I have already related an adventure of his, that
of his seizing upon the coffers of his uncle, and so forestalling his
inheritance. To recover from the disgrace this occurrence brought upon
him, he had married a daughter of Chamillart. Favoured by this minister,
but coldly looked upon by the King, he had succeeded in obtaining command
in the army, and had been appointed to conduct this siege. Inflated by
the importance of his position, and by the support of Chamillart, he
would listen to no advice from any one. M. d'Orleans attempted to bring
about some changes, and gave orders to that effect, but as soon as he was
gone, La Feuillade countermanded those orders and had everything his own
way. The siege accordingly went on with the same ill-success as before.

M. d'Orleans joined M. de Vendome on the 17th of July, upon the Mincio.
The pretended hero had just made some irreparable faults. He had allowed
Prince Eugene to pass the Po, nearly in front of him, and nobody knew
what had become of twelve of our battalions posted near the place where
this passage had been made. Prince Eugene had taken all the boats that
we had upon the river. We could not cross it, therefore, and follow the
enemy without making a bridge. Vendome feared lest his faults should be
perceived. He wished that his successor should remain charged with them.
M. d'Orleans, indeed, soon saw all the faults that M. de Vendome had
committed, and tried hard to induce the latter to aid him to repair them.
But M. de Vendome would not listen to his representations, and started
away almost immediately to take the command of the army in Flanders,
leaving M. d'Orleans to get out of the difficulty as he might.

M. d'Orleans, abandoned to himself (except when interfered with by
Marechal de Marsin, under whose tutelage he was), could do nothing. He
found as much opposition to his plans from Marsin as he had found from M.
de Vendome. Marsin wished to keep in the good graces of La Feuillade,
son-in-law of the all-powerful minister, and would not adopt the views of
M. d'Orleans. This latter had proposed to dispute the passage of the
Tanaro, a confluent of the Po, with the enemy, or compel them to accept
battle. An intercepted letter, in cypher, from Prince Eugene to the
Emperor, which fell into our hands, proved, subsequently, that this
course would have been the right one to adopt; but the proof came too
late; the decyphering table having been forgotten at Versailles!
M. d'Orleans had in the mean time been forced to lead his army to Turin,
to assist the besiegers, instead of waiting to stop the passage of the
troops that were destined for the aid of the besieged. He arrived at
Turin on the 28th of August, in the evening. La Feuillade, now under two
masters, grew, it might be imagined, more docile. But no! He allied
himself with Marsin (without whom M. d'Orleans could do nothing), and so
gained him over that they acted completely in accord. When M. d'Orleans
was convinced, soon after his arrival, that the enemy was approaching to
succour Turin, he suggested that they should be opposed as they attempted
the passage of the Dora.

But his advice was not listened to. He was displeased with everything.
He found that all the orders he had given had been disregarded. He found
the siege works bad, imperfect, very wet, and very ill-guarded. He tried
to remedy all these defects, but he was opposed at every step. A council
of war was held. M. d'Orleans stated his views, but all the officers
present, with one honourable exception, servilely chimed in with the
views of Marsin and La Feuillade, and things remained as they were.
M. d'Orleans, thereupon, protested that he washed his hands of all the
misfortunes that might happen in consequence of his advice being
neglected. He declared that as he was no longer master over anything,
it was not just that he should bear any part of the blame which would
entail to those in command. He asked, therefore, for his post-chaise,
and wished immediately to quit the army. La Feuillade and Marsin,
however, begged him to remain, and upon second thoughts he thought it
better to do so. The simple reason of all this opposition was, that La
Feuillade, being very young and very vain, wished to have all the honours
of the siege. He was afraid that if the counsel of M. d'Orleans
prevailed, some of that honour would be taken from him. This was the
real reason, and to this France owes the disastrous failure of the siege
of Turin.

After the council of war, M. d'Orleans ceased to take any share in the
command, walked about or stopped at home, like a man who had nothing to
do with what was passing around him. On the night of the 6th to the 7th
of September, he rose from his bed alarmed by information sent to him in
a letter, that Prince Eugene was about to attack the castle of Pianezza,
in order to cross the Dora, and so proceed to attack the besiegers. He
hastened at once to Marsin, showed him the letter, and recommended that
troops should at once be sent to dispute the passage of a brook that the
enemies had yet to cross, even supposing them to be masters of Pianezza.
Even as he was speaking, confirmation of the intelligence he had received
was brought by one of our officers. But it was resolved, in the Eternal
decrees, that France should be struck to the heart that day.

Marsin would listen to none of the arguments of M. d'Orleans. He
maintained that it would be unsafe to leave the lines; that the news was
false; that Prince Eugene could not possibly arrive so promptly; he would
give no orders; and he counselled M. d'Orleans to go back to bed. The
Prince, more piqued and more disgusted than ever, retired to his quarters
fully resolved to abandon everything to the blind and deaf, who would
neither see nor hear.

Soon after entering his chamber the news spread from all parts of the
arrival of Prince Eugene. He did not stir. Some general officers came,
and forced him to mount his horse. He went forth negligently at a
walking pace. What had taken place during the previous days had made so
much noise that even the common soldiers were ashamed of it. They liked
him, and murmured because he would no longer command them. One of them
called him by his name, and asked him if he refused them his sword. This
question did more than all that the general officers had been able to do.
M. d'Orleans replied to the soldier, that he would not refuse to serve
them, and at once resolved to lend all his aid to Marsin and La

But it was no longer possible to leave the lines. The enemy was in
sight, and advanced so diligently, that there was no time to make
arrangements. Marsin, more dead than alive, was incapable of giving any
order or any advice. But La Feuillade still persevered in his obstinacy.
He disputed the orders of the Duc d'Orleans, and prevented their
execution, possessed by I know not what demon.

The attack was commenced about ten o'clock in the morning, was pushed
with incredible vigour, and sustained, at first, in the same manner.
Prince Eugene poured his troops into those places which the smallness of
our forces had compelled us to leave open. Marsin, towards the middle of
the battle, received a wound which incapacitated him from further
service, end was taken prisoner immediately after. Le Feuillade ran
about like a madman, tearing his hair, and incapable of giving any order.
The Duc d'Orleans preserved his coolness, and did wonders to save the
day. Finding our men beginning to waver, he called the officers by their
names, aroused the soldiers by his voice, and himself led the squadrons
and battalions to the charge. Vanquished at last by pain, and weakened
by the blood he had lost, he was constrained to retire a little, to have
his wounds dressed. He scarcely gave himself time for this, however, but
returned at once where the fire was hottest. Three times the enemy had
been repulsed and their guns spiked by one of our officers, Le Guerchois,
with his brigade of the old marine, when, enfeebled by the losses he had
sustained, he called upon a neighbouring brigade to advance with him to
oppose a number of fresh battalions the enemy had sent against him. This
brigade and its brigadier refused bluntly to aid him. It was positively
known afterwards, that had Le Guerchois sustained this fourth charge,
Prince Eugene would have retreated.

This was the last moment of the little order that there had been at this
battle. All that followed was only trouble, confusion, disorder, flight,
discomfiture. The most terrible thing is, that the general officers,
with but few exceptions, more intent upon their equipage and upon what
they had saved by pillage, added to the confusion instead of diminishing
it, and were worse than useless.

M. d'Orleans, convinced at last that it was impossible to re-establish
the day, thought only how to retire as advantageously as possible. He
withdrew his light artillery, his ammunition, everything that was at the
siege, even at the most advanced of its works, and attended to everything
with a presence of mind that allowed nothing to escape him. Then,
gathering round him all the officers he could collect, he explained to
them that nothing but retreat was open to them, and that the road to
Italy was that which they ought to pursue. By this means they would
leave the victorious army of the enemy in a country entirely ruined and
desolate, and hinder it from returning into Italy, where the army of the
King, on the contrary, would have abundance, and where it would cut off
all succour from the others.

This proposition dismayed to the last degree our officers, who hoped at
least to reap the fruit of this disaster by returning to France with the
money with which they were gorged. La Feuillade opposed it with so much
impatience, that the Prince, exasperated by an effrontery so sustained,
told him to hold his peace and let others speak. Others did speak, but
only one was for following the counsel of M. d'Orleans. Feeling himself
now, however, the master, he stopped all further discussion, and gave
orders that the retreat to Italy should commence. This was all he could
do. His body and his brain were equally exhausted. After having waited
some little time, he was compelled to throw himself into a post-chaise,
and in that to continue the journey.

The officers obeyed his orders most unwillingly. They murmured amongst
each other so loudly that the Duc d'Orleans, justly irritated by so much
opposition to his will, made them hold their peace. The retreat
continued. But it was decreed that the spirit of error and vertigo
should ruin us and save the allies. As the army was about to cross the
bridge over the Ticino, and march into Italy, information was brought to
M. d'Orleans, that the enemy occupied the roads by which it was
indispensable to pass. M. d'Orleans, not believing this intelligence,
persisted in going forward. Our officers, thus foiled, for it was known
afterwards that the story was their invention, and that the passes were
entirely free, hit upon another expedient. They declared there were no
more provisions or ammunition, and that it was accordingly impossible to
go into Italy. M. d'Orleans, worn out by so much criminal disobedience,
and weakened by his wound, could hold out no longer. He threw himself
back in the chaise, and said they might go where they would. The army
therefore turned about, and directed itself towards Pignerol, losing many
equipages from our rear-guard during the night in the mountains, although
that rear-guard was protected by Albergotti, and was not annoyed by the

The joy of the enemy at their success was unbounded. They could scarcely
believe in it. Their army was just at its last gasp. They had not more
than four days' supply of powder left in the place. After the victory,
M. de Savoie and Prince Eugene lost no time in idle rejoicings. They
thought only how to profit by a success so unheard of and so unexpected.
They retook rapidly all the places in Piedmont and Lombardy that we
occupied, and we had no power to prevent them.

Never battle cost fewer soldiers than that of Turin; never was retreat
more undisturbed than ours; yet never were results more frightful or more
rapid. Ramillies, with a light loss, cost the Spanish Low Countries and
part of ours: Turin cost all Italy by the ambition of La Feuillade, the
incapacity of Marsin, the avarice, the trickery, the disobedience of the
general officers opposed to M, d'Orleans. So complete was the rout of
our army, that it was found impossible to restore it sufficiently to send
it back to Italy, not at least before the following spring. M. d'Orleans
returned therefore to Versailles, on Monday, the 8th of November, and was
well received by the King. La Feuillade arrived on Monday, the 13th of
December, having remained several days at Paris without daring to go to
Versailles. He was taken to the King by Chamillart. As soon as the King
saw them enter he rose, went to the door, and without giving them time to
utter a word, said to La Feuillade, "Monsieur, we are both very
unfortunate!" and instantly turned his back upon him. La Feuillade, on
the threshold of the door that he had not had time to cross, left the
place immediately, without having dared to say a single word. The King
always afterwards turned his eye from La Feuillade, and would never speak
to him. Such was the fall of this Phaeton. He saw that he had no more
hope, and retired from the army; although there was no baseness that he
did not afterwards employ to return to command. I think there never was
a more wrong-headed man or a man more radically dishonest, even to the
marrow of his bones. As for Marsin, he died soon after his capture, from
the effect of his wounds.


Such was our military history of the year 1706--history of losses and
dishonour. It may be imagined in what condition was the exchequer with
so many demands upon its treasures. For the last two or three years the
King had been obliged, on account of the expenses of the war, and the
losses we had sustained, to cut down the presents that he made at the
commencement of the year. Thirty-five thousand louis in gold was the sum
he ordinarily spent in this manner. This year, 1707, he diminished it by
ten thousand Louis. It was upon Madame de Montespan that the blow fell.
Since she had quitted the Court the King gave her twelve thousand Louis
of gold each year. This year he sent word to her that he could only give
her eight. Madame de Montespan testified not the least surprise. She
replied, that she was only sorry for the poor, to whom indeed she gave
with profusion. A short time after the King had made this reduction,
that is, on the 8th of January, Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne gave
birth to a son. The joy was great, but the King prohibited all those
expenses which had been made at the birth of the first-born of Madame de
Bourgogne, and which had amounted to a large sum. The want of money
indeed made itself felt so much at this time, that the King was obliged
to seek for resources as a private person might have done. A mining
speculator, named Rodes, having pretended that he had discovered many
veins of gold in the Pyrenees, assistance was given him in order that he
might bring these treasures to light.

He declared that with eighteen hundred workmen he would furnish a million
(francs' worth of gold) each week. Fifty-two millions a-year would have
been a fine increase of revenue. However, after waiting some little
time, no gold was forthcoming, and the money that had been spent to
assist this enterprise was found to be pure loss.

The difficulty of finding money to carry on the affairs of the nation
continued to grow so irksome that Chamillart, who had both the finance
and the war departments under his control, was unable to stand against
the increased trouble and vexation which this state of things brought
him. More than once he had represented that this double work was too
much for him. But the King had in former times expressed so much
annoyance from the troubles that arose between the finance and war
departments, that he would not separate them, after having once joined
them together. At last, Chamillart could bear up against his heavy load
no longer. The vapours seized him: he had attacks of giddiness in the
head; his digestion was obstructed; he grew thin as a lath. He wrote
again to the King, begging to be released from his duties, and frankly
stated that, in the state he was, if some relief was not afforded him,
everything would go wrong and perish. He always left a large margin to
his letters, and upon this the King generally wrote his reply.
Chamillart showed me this letter when it came back to him, and I saw upon
it with great surprise, in the handwriting of the King, this short note:
"Well! let us perish together."

The necessity for money had now become so great, that all sorts of means
were adopted to obtain it. Amongst other things, a tax was established
upon baptisms and marriages. This tax was extremely onerous and odious.
The result of it was a strange confusion. Poor people, and many of
humble means, baptised their children themselves, without carrying them
to the church, and were married at home by reciprocal consent and before
witnesses, when they could find no priest who would marry them without
formality. In consequence of this there were no longer any baptismal
extracts; no longer any certainty as to baptisms or births; and the
children of the marriages solemnised in the way I have stated above were
illegitimate in the eyes of the law. Researches and rigours in respect
to abuses so prejudicial were redoubled therefore; that is to say, they
were redoubled for the purpose of collecting the tax.

From public cries and murmurs the people in some places passed to
sedition. Matters went so far at Cahors, that two battalions which were
there had great difficulty in holding the town against the armed
peasants; and troops intended for Spain were obliged to be sent there.
It was found necessary to suspend the operation of the tax, but it was
with great trouble that the movement of Quercy was put down, and the
peasants, who had armed and collected together, induced to retire into
their villages. In Perigord they rose, pillaged the bureaux, and
rendered themselves masters of a little town and some castles, and forced
some gentlemen to put themselves at their head. They declared publicly
that they would pay the old taxes to King, curate, and lord, but that
they would pay no more, or hear a word of any other taxes or vexation.
In the end it was found necessary to drop this tax upon baptism and
marriages, to the great regret of the tax-gatherers, who, by all manner
of vexations and rogueries, had enriched themselves cruelly.

It was at this time, and in consequence, to some extent, of these events,
that a man who had acquired the highest distinction in France was brought
to the tomb in bitterness and grief, for that which in any other country
would have covered him with honour. Vauban, for it is to him that I
allude, patriot as he was, had all his life been touched with the misery
of the people and the vexations they suffered. The knowledge that his
offices gave him of the necessity for expense, the little hope he had
that the King would retrench in matters of splendour and amusement, made
him groan to see no remedy to an oppression which increased in weight
from day to day. Feeling this, he made no journey that he did not
collect information upon the value and produce of the land, upon the
trade and industry of the towns and provinces, on the nature of the
imposts, and the manner of collecting them. Not content with this, he
secretly sent to such places as he could not visit himself, or even to
those he had visited, to instruct him in everything, and compare the
reports he received with those he had himself made. The last twenty
years of his life were spent in these researches, and at considerable
cost to himself. In, the end, he convinced himself that the land was the
only real wealth, and he set himself to work to form a new system.

He had already made much progress, when several little books appeared by
Boisguilbert, lieutenant-general at Rouen, who long since had had the
same views as Vauban, and had wanted to make them known. From this
labour had resulted a learned and profound book, in which a system was
explained by which the people could be relieved of all the expenses they
supported, and from every tax, and by which the revenue collected would
go at once into the treasury of the King, instead of enriching, first the
traitants, the intendants, and the finance ministers. These latter,
therefore, were opposed to the system, and their opposition, as will be
seen, was of no slight consequence.

Vauban read this book with much attention. He differed on some points
with the author, but agreed with him in the main. Boisguilbert wished to
preserve some imposts upon foreign commerce and upon provisions. Vauban
wished to abolish all imposts, and to substitute for them two taxes, one
upon the land, the other upon trade and industry. His book, in which he
put forth these ideas, was full of information and figures, all arranged
with the utmost clearness, simplicity, and exactitude.

But it had a grand fault. It described a course which, if followed,
would have ruined an army of financiers, of clerks, of functionaries of
all kinds; it would have forced them to live at their own expense,
instead of at the expense of the people; and it would have sapped the
foundations of those immense fortunes that are seen to grow up in such a
short time. This was enough to cause its failure.

All the people interested in opposing the work set up a cry. They saw
place, power, everything, about to fly from their grasp, if the counsels
of Vauban were acted upon. What wonder, then, that the King, who was
surrounded by these people, listened to their reasons, and received with
a very ill grace Marechal Vauban when he presented his book to him. The
ministers, it may well be believed, did not give him a better welcome.
From that moment his services, his military capacity (unique of its
kind), his virtues, the affection the King had had for him, all were
forgotten. The King saw only in Marechal Vauban a man led astray by love
for the people, a criminal who attacked the authority of the ministers,
and consequently that of the King. He explained himself to this effect
without scruple.

The unhappy Marechal could not survive the loss of his royal master's
favour, or stand up against the enmity the King's explanations had
created against him; he died a few months after consumed with grief, and
with an affliction nothing could soften, and to which the King was
insensible to such a point, that he made semblance of not perceiving that
he had lost a servitor so useful and so illustrious. Vauban, justly
celebrated over all Europe, was regretted in France by all who were not
financiers or their supporters.

Boisguilbert, whom this event ought to have rendered wise, could not
contain himself. One of the objections which had been urged against his
theories, was the difficulty of carrying out changes in the midst of a
great war. He now published a book refuting this point, and describing
such a number of abuses then existing, to abolish which, he asked, was it
necessary to wait for peace, that the ministers were outraged.
Boisguilbert was exiled to Auvergne. I did all in my power to revoke
this sentence, having known Boisguilbert at Rouen, but did not succeed
until the end of two months. He was then allowed to return to Rouen, but
was severely reprimanded, and stripped of his functions for some little
time. He was amply indemnified, however, for this by the crowd of
people, and the acclamations with which he was received.

It is due to Chamillart to say, that he was the only minister who had
listened with any attention to these new systems of Vauban and
Boisguilbert. He indeed made trial of the plans suggested by the former,
but the circumstances were not favourable to his success, and they of
course failed. Some time after, instead of following the system of
Vauban, and reducing the imposts, fresh ones were added. Who would have
said to the Marechal that all his labours for the relief of the people of
France would lead to new imposts, more harsh, more permanent, and more
heavy than he protested against? It is a terrible lesson against all
improvements in matters of taxation and finance.

But it is time, now, that I should retrace my steps to other matters,
which, if related in due order of time, should have found a place ere
this. And first, let me relate the particulars concerning a trial in
which I was engaged, and which I have deferred allusion to until now, so
as not to entangle the thread of my narrative.

My sister, as I have said in its proper place, had married the Duc de
Brissac, and the marriage had not been a happy one. After a time, in
fact, they separated. My sister at her death left me her universal
legatee; and shortly after this, M. de Brissac brought an action against
me on her account for five hundred thousand francs. After his death, his
representatives continued the action, which I resisted, not only
maintaining that I owed none of the five hundred thousand francs, but
claiming to have two hundred thousand owing to me, out of six hundred
thousand which had formed the dowry of my sister.

When M. de Brissac died, there seemed some probability that his peerage
would become extinct; for the Comte de Cosse, who claimed to succeed him,
was opposed by a number of peers, and but for me might have failed to
establish his pretensions. I, however, as his claim was just, interested
myself in him, supported him with all my influence, and gained for him
the support of several influential peers: so that in the end he was
recognised as Duc de Brissac, and received as such at the parliament on
the 6th of May, 1700.

Having succeeded thus to the titles and estates of his predecessor, he
succeeded also to his liabilities, debts, and engagements. Among these
was the trial against me for five hundred thousand francs. Cosse felt so
thoroughly that he owed his rank to me, that he offered to give me five
hundred thousand francs, so as to indemnify me against an adverse
decision in the cause. Now, as I have said, I not only resisted this
demand made upon me for five hundred thousand francs, but I, in my turn,
claimed two hundred thousand francs, and my claim, once admitted, all the
personal creditors of the late Duc de Brissac (creditors who, of course,
had to be paid by the new Duke) would have been forced to stand aside
until my debt was settled.

I, therefore, refused this offer of Cosse, lest other creditors should
hear of the arrangement, and force him to make a similar one with them.
He was overwhelmed with a generosity so little expected, and we became
more intimately connected from that day.

Cosse, once received as Duc de Brissac, I no longer feared to push
forward the action I had commenced for the recovery of the two hundred
thousand francs due to me, and which I had interrupted only on his
account. I had gained it twice running against the late Duc de Brissac,
at the parliament of Rouen; but the Duchesse d'Aumont, who in the last
years of his life had lent him money, and whose debt was in danger,
succeeded in getting this cause sent up for appeal to the parliament at
Paris, where she threw obstacle upon obstacle in its path, and caused
judgment to be delayed month after month. When I came to take active
steps in the matter, my surprise--to use no stronger word--was great, to
find Cosse, after all I had done for him, favouring the pretensions of
the Duchesse d'Aumont, and lending her his aid to establish them.
However, he and the Duchesse d'Aumont lost their cause, for when it was
submitted to the judges of the council at Paris, it was sent back to
Rouen, and they had to pay damages and expenses.

For years the affair had been ready to be judged at Rouen, but M.
d'Aumont every year, by means of his letters of state, obtained a
postponement. At last, however, M. d'Aumont died, and I was assured that
the letters of state should not be again produced, and that in
consequence no further adjournment should take place. I and Madame de
Saint-Simon at once set out, therefore, for Rouen, where we were
exceedingly well received, fetes and entertainments being continually
given in our honour.

After we had been there but eight or ten days, I received a letter from
Pontchartrain, who sent me word that the King had learnt with surprise I
was at Rouen, and had charged him to ask me why I was there: so attentive
was the King as to what became of the people of mark, he was accustomed
to see around him! My reply was not difficult.

Meanwhile our cause proceeded. The parliament, that is to say, the Grand
Chamber, suspended all other business in order to finish ours. The
affair was already far advanced, when it was interrupted by an obstacle,
of all obstacles the least possible to foresee. The letters of state had
again been put in, for the purpose of obtaining another adjournment.

My design is not to weary by recitals, which interest only myself; but I
must explain this matter fully. It was Monday evening. The parliament
of Rouen ended on the following Saturday. If we waited until the opening
of the next parliament, we should have to begin our cause from the
beginning, and with new presidents and judges, who would know nothing of
the facts. What was to be done? To appeal to the King seemed
impossible, for he was at Marly, and, while there, never listened to such
matters. By the time he left Marly, it would be too late to apply to

Madame de Saint-Simon and others advised me, however, at all hazards, to
go straight to the King, instead of sending a courier, as I thought of
doing, and to keep my journey secret. I followed their advice, and
setting out at once, arrived at Marly on Tuesday morning, the 8th of
August, at eight of the clock. The Chancellor and Chamillart, to whom I
told my errand, pitied me, but gave me no hope of success. Nevertheless,
a council of state was to be held on the following morning, presided over
by the King, and my petition was laid before it. The letters of state
were thrown out by every voice. This information was brought to me at
mid-day. I partook of a hasty dinner, and turned back to Rouen, where I
arrived on Thursday, at eight o'clock in the morning, three hours after a
courier, by whom I had sent this unhoped-for news.

I brought with me, besides the order respecting the letters of state, an
order to the parliament to proceed to judgment at once. It was laid
before the judges very early on Saturday, the 11th of August, the last
day of the parliament. From four o'clock in the morning we had an
infinite number of visitors, wanting to accompany us to the palace. The
parliament had been much irritated against these letters of state, after
having suspended all other business for us. The withdrawal of these
letters was now announced. We gained our cause, with penalties and
expenses, amid acclamations which resounded through the court, and which
followed us into the streets. We could scarcely enter our street, so
full was it with the crowd, or our house, which was equally crowded. Our
kitchen chimney soon after took fire, and it was only a marvel that it
was extinguished, without damage, after having strongly warned us, and
turned our joy into bitterness. There was only the master of the house
who was unmoved. We dined, however, with a grand company; and after
stopping one or two days more to thank our friends, we went to see the
sea at Dieppe, and then to Cani, to a beautiful house belonging to our
host at Rouen.

As for Madame d'Aumont, she was furious at the ill-success of her affair.
It was she who had obtained the letters of state from the steward of her
son-in-law. Her son-in-law had promised me that they should not be used,
and wrote at once to say he had had no hand in their production. M. de
Brissac, who had been afraid to look me in the face ever since he had
taken part in this matter, and with whom I had openly broken, was now so
much ashamed that he avoided me everywhere.


It was just at the commencement of the year 1706, that I received a piece
of news which almost took away my breath by its suddenness, and by the
surprise it caused me. I was on very intimate terms with Gualterio, the
nuncio of the Pope. Just about this time we were without an ambassador
at Rome. The nuncio spoke to me about this post; but at my age--I was
but thirty--and knowing the unwillingness of the King to employ young men
in public affairs, I paid no attention to his words. Eight days
afterwards he entered my chamber-one Tuesday, about an hour after mid-
day-his arms open, joy painted upon his face, and embracing me, told me
to shut my door, and even that of my antechamber, so that he should not
be seen. I was to go to Rome as ambassador. I made him repeat this
twice over: it seemed so impossible. If one of the portraits in my
chamber had spoken to me, I could not have been more surprised.
Gualterio begged me to keep the matter secret, saying, that the
appointment would be officially announced to me ere long.

I went immediately and sought out Chamillart, reproaching him for not
having apprised me of this good news. He smiled at my anger, and said
that the King had ordered the news to be kept secret. I admit that I was
flattered at being chosen at my age for an embassy so important. I was
advised on every side to accept it, and this I determined to do. I could
not understand, however, how it was I had been selected. Torcy, years
afterwards, when the King was dead, related to me how it came about. At
this time I had no relations with Torcy; it was not until long afterwards
that friendship grew up between us.

He said, then, that the embassy being vacant, the King wished to fill up
that appointment, and wished also that a Duke should be ambassador. He
took an almanack and began reading the names of the Dukes, commencing
with M. de Uzes. He made no stop until he came to my name. Then he said
(to Torcy), "What do you think of him? He is young, but he is good," &c.
The King, after hearing a few opinions expressed by those around him,
shut up the almanack, and said it was not worth while to go farther,
determined that I should be ambassador, but ordered the appointment to be
kept secret. I learnt this, more than ten years after its occurrence,
from a true man, who had no longer any interest or reason to disguise
anything from me.

Advised on all sides by my friends to accept the post offered to me, I
did not long hesitate to do so. Madame de Saint-Simon gave me the same
advice, although she herself was pained at the idea of quitting her
family. I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of relating here what the
three ministers each said of my wife, a woman then of only twenty-seven
years of age. All three, unknown to each other, and without solicitation
on my part, counselled me to keep none of the affairs of my embassy
secret from her, but to give her a place at the end of the table when I
read or wrote my despatches, and to consult her with deference upon
everything. I have rarely so much relished advice as I did in this case.
Although, as things fell out, I could not follow it at Rome, I had
followed it long before, and continued to do so all my life. I kept
nothing secret from her, and I had good reason to be pleased that I did
not. Her counsel was always wise, judicious, and useful, and oftentimes
she warded off from me many inconveniences.

But to continue the narrative of this embassy. It was soon so generally
known that I was going to Rome, that as we danced at Marly, we heard
people say, "Look! M. l'Ambassadeur and Madame l'Ambassadrice are
dancing." After this I wished the announcement to be made public as soon
as possible, but the King was not to be hurried. Day after day passed
by, and still I was kept in suspense. At last, about the middle of
April, I had an interview with Chamillart one day, just after he came out
of the council at which I knew my fate had been decided. I learnt then
that the King had determined to send no ambassador to Rome. The Abbe de
La Tremoille was already there; he had been made Cardinal, and was to
remain and attend to the affairs of the embassy. I found out afterwards
that I had reason to attribute to Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine the
change in the King's intention towards me. Madame de Saint-Simon was
delighted. It seemed as though she foresaw the strange discredit in
which the affairs of the King were going to fall in Italy, the
embarrassment and the disorder that public misfortunes would cause the
finances, and the cruel situation to which all things would have reduced
us at Rome. As for me, I had had so much leisure to console myself
beforehand, that I had need of no more. I felt, however, that I had now
lost all favour with the King, and, indeed, he estranged himself from me
more and more each day. By what means I recovered myself it is not yet
time to tell.

On the night between the 3rd and 4th of February, Cardinal Coislin,
Bishop of Orleans, died. He was a little man, very fat, who looked like
a village curate. His purity of manners and his virtues caused him to be
much loved. Two good actions of his life deserve to be remembered.

When, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, the King determined to
convert the Huguenots by means of dragoons and torture, a regiment was
sent to Orleans, to be spread abroad in the diocese. As soon as it
arrived, M. d'Orleans sent word to the officers that they might make his
house their home; that their horses should be lodged in his stables. He
begged them not to allow a single one of their men to leave the town, to
make the slightest disorder; to say no word to the Huguenots, and not to
lodge in their houses. He resolved to be obeyed, and he was. The
regiment stayed a month; and cost him a good deal. At the end of that
time he so managed matters that the soldiers were sent away, and none
came again. This conduct, so full of charity, so opposed to that of
nearly all the other dioceses, gained as many Huguenots as were gained by
the barbarities they suffered elsewhere. It needed some courage, to say
nothing of generosity, to act thus, and to silently blame, as it were,
the conduct of the King.

The other action of M. d'Orleans was less public and less dangerous,
but was not less good. He secretly gave away many alms to the poor,
in addition to those he gave publicly. Among those whom he succoured
was a poor, broken-down gentleman, without wife or child, to whom he gave
four hundred livres of pension, and a place at his table whenever he was
at Orleans. One morning the servants of M. d'Orleans told their master
that ten pieces of plate were missing, and that suspicion fell upon the
gentleman. M. d'Orleans could not believe him guilty, but as he did not
make his appearance at the house for several days, was forced at last to
imagine he was so. Upon this he sent for the gentleman, who admitted
himself to be the offender.

M. d'Orleans said he must have been strangely pressed to commit an action
of this nature, and reproached him for not having mentioned his wants.
Then, drawing twenty Louis from his pocket, he gave them to the
gentleman, told him to forget what had occurred, and to use his table
as before. M. d'Orleans prohibited his servants to mention their
suspicions, and this anecdote would never have been known, had it not
been told by the gentleman himself, penetrated with confusion and

M. d'Orleans, after he became cardinal, was often pressed by his friends
to give up his bishopric. But this he would not listen to. The King had
for him a respect that was almost devotion. When Madame de Bourgogne was
about to be delivered of her first child, the King sent a courier to M.
d'Orleans requesting him to come to Court immediately, and to remain
there until after the delivery. When the child was born, the King would
not allow it to be sprinkled by any other hand than that of M. d'Orleans.
The poor man, very fat, as I have said, always sweated very much;--on
this occasion, wrapped up in his cloak and his lawn, his body ran with
sweat in such abundance, that in the antechamber the floor was wet all
round where he stood. All the Court was much afflicted at his death; the
King more than anybody spoke his praises. It was known after his death,
from his valet de chambre, that he mortified himself continually with
instruments of penitence, and that he rose every night and passed an hour
on his knees in prayer. He received the sacraments with great piety, and
died the night following as he had lived.

Heudicourt the younger, a species of very mischievous satyr, and much
mixed up in grand intrigues of gallantry, made, about this time, a song
upon the grand 'prevot' and his family. It was so simple, so true to
nature, withal so pleasant, that some one having whispered it in the ear
of the Marechal de Boufflers at chapel, he could not refrain from
bursting into laughter, although he was in attendance at the mass of the
King. The Marechal was the gravest and most serious man in all France;
the greatest slave to decorum. The King turned round therefore, in
surprise, which augmented considerably when he saw the Marechal de
Boufflers nigh to bursting with laughter, and the tears running down his
cheeks. On turning into his cabinet, he called the Marechal, and asked
what had got him in that state at the mass. The Marechal repeated the
song to him. Thereupon the King burst out louder than the Marechal had,
and for a whole fortnight afterwards could not help smiling whenever he
saw the grand 'prevot' or any of his family. The song soon spread about,
and much diverted the Court and the town.

I should particularly avoid soiling this page with an account of the
operation for fistula which Courcillon, only son of Dangeau, had
performed upon him, but for the extreme ridicule with which it was
accompanied. Courcillon was a dashing young fellow, much given to witty
sayings, to mischief, to impiety, and to the filthiest debauchery, of
which latter, indeed, this operation passed publicly as the fruit. His
mother, Madams Dangeau, was in the strictest intimacy with Madame de
Maintenon. They two alone, of all the Court, were ignorant of the life
Courcillon led. Madame was much afflicted; and quitted his bed-side,
even for a moment, with pain. Madame de Maintenon entered into her
sorrow, and went every day to bear her company at the pillow of
Courcillon. Madame d'Heudicourt, another intimate friend of Madame de
Maintenon, was admitted there also, but scarcely anybody else.
Courcillon listened to them, spoke devotionally to them, and uttered the
reflections suggested by his state. They, all admiration, published
everywhere that he was a saint. Madame d'Heudicourt and a few others who
listened to these discourses, and who knew the pilgrim well, and saw him
loll out his tongue at them on the sly, knew not what to do to prevent
their laughter, and as soon as they could get away went and related all
they had heard to their friends. Courcillon, who thought it a mighty
honour to have Madame de Maintenon every day for nurse, but who,
nevertheless, was dying of weariness, used to see his friends in the
evening (when Madame de Maintenon and his mother were gone), and would
relate to them, with burlesque exaggeration, all the miseries he had
suffered during the day, and ridicule the devotional discourses he had
listened to. All the time his illness lasted, Madame de Maintenon came
every day to see him, so that her credulity, which no one dared to
enlighten, was the laughing-stock of the Court. She conceived such a
high opinion of the virtue of Courcillon, that she cited him always as an
example, and the King also formed the same opinion. Courcillon took good
care not to try and cultivate it when he became cured; yet neither the
King nor Madame de Maintenon opened their eyes, or changed their conduct
towards him. Madame de Maintenon, it must be said, except in the sublime
intrigue of her government and with the King, was always the queen of

It would seem that there are, at certain times, fashions in crimes as in
clothes. At the period of the Voysins and the Brinvilliers, there were
nothing but poisoners abroad; and against these, a court was expressly
instituted, called ardente, because it condemned them to the flames. At
the time of which I am now speaking, 1703, for I forgot to relate what
follows in its proper place, forgers of writings were in the ascendant,
and became so common, that a chamber was established composed of
councillors of state and others, solely to judge the accusations which
this sort of criminals gave rise to.

The Bouillons wished to be recognised as descended, by male issue, of the
Counts of Auvergne, and to claim all kinds of distinctions and honours in
consequence. They had, however, no proofs of this, but, on the contrary,
their genealogy proved it to be false. All on a sudden, an old document
that had been interred in the obscurity of ages in the church of Brioude,
was presented to Cardinal Bouillon. It had all the marks of antiquity,
and contained a triumphant proof of the descent of the house of La Tour,
to which the Bouillons belonged, from the ancient Counts of Auvergne.
The Cardinal was delighted to have in his hands this precious document.
But to avoid all suspicion, he affected modesty, and hesitated to give
faith to evidence so decisive. He spoke in confidence to all the learned
men he knew, and begged them to examine the document with care, so that
he might not be the dupe of a too easy belief in it.

Whether the examiners were deceived by the document, or whether they
allowed themselves to be seduced into believing it, as is more than
probable, from fear of giving offence to the Cardinal, need not be
discussed. It is enough to say that they pronounced in favour of the
deed, and that Father Mabillon, that Benedictine so well known throughout
all Europe by his sense and his candour, was led by the others to share
their opinion.

After this, Cardinal de Bouillon no longer affected any doubt about the
authenticity of the discovery. All his friends complimented him upon it,
the majority to see how he would receive their congratulations. It was a
chaos rather than a mixture, of vanity the most outrageous, modesty the
most affected, and joy the most immoderate which he could not restrain.

Unfortunately, De Bar, who had found the precious document, and who had
presented it to Cardinal de Bouillon, was arrested and put in prison a
short time after this, charged with many forgeries. This event made some
stir, and caused suspicion to fall upon the document, which was now
attentively examined through many new spectacles. Learned men
unacquainted with the Bouillons contested it, and De Bar was so pushed
upon this point, that he made many delicate admissions. Alarm at once
spread among the Bouillons. They did all in their power to ward off the
blow that was about to fall. Seeing the tribunal firm, and fully
resolved to follow the affair to the end, they openly solicited for De
Bar, and employed all their credit to gain his liberation. At last,
finding the tribunal inflexible, they were reduced to take an extreme
resolution. M. de Bouillon admitted to the King, that his brother,
Cardinal de Bouillon, might, unknown to all of them, have brought forward
facts he could not prove. He added, that putting himself in the King's
hands, he begged that the affair might be stopped at once, out of
consideration for those whose only guilt was too great credulity, and too
much confidence in a brother who had deceived them. The King, with more
of friendship for M. de Bouillon than of reflection as to what he owed by
way of reparation for a public offence, agreed to this course.

De Bar, convicted of having fabricated this document, by his own
admission before the public tribunal, was not condemned to death, but to
perpetual imprisonment. As may be believed, this adventure made a great
stir; but what cannot be believed so easily is, the conduct of the
Messieurs Bouillon about fifteen months afterwards.

At the time when the false document above referred to was discovered,
Cardinal de Bouillon had commissioned Baluze, a man much given to
genealogical studies, to write the history of the house of Auvergne.
In this history, the descent, by male issue; of the Bouillons from the
Counts of Auvergne, was established upon the evidence supplied by this
document. At least, nobody doubted that such was the case, and the world
was strangely scandalised to see the work appear after that document had
been pronounced to be a forgery. Many learned men and friends of Baluze
considered him so dishonoured by it, that they broke off all relations
with him, and this put the finishing touch to the confusion of this

On Thursday, the 7th of March, 1707, a strange event troubled the King,
and filled the Court and the town with rumours. Beringhen, first master
of the horse, left Versailles at seven o'clock in the evening of that
day, to go to Paris, alone in one of the King's coaches, two of the royal
footmen behind, and a groom carrying a torch before him on the seventh
horse. The carriage had reached the plain of Bissancourt, and was
passing between a farm on the road near Sevres bridge and a cabaret,
called the "Dawn of Day," when it was stopped by fifteen or sixteen men
on horseback, who seized on Beringhen, hurried him into a post-chaise in
waiting, and drove off with him. The King's carriage, with the coachman,
footmen, and groom, was allowed to go back to Versailles. As soon as it
reached Versailles the King was informed of what had taken place. He
sent immediately to his four Secretaries of State, ordering them to send
couriers everywhere to the frontiers, with instructions to the governors
to guard all the passages, so that if these horsemen were foreign
enemies, as was suspected, they would be caught in attempting to pass out
of the kingdom. It was known that a party of the enemy had entered
Artois, that they had committed no disorders, but that they were there
still. Although people found it difficult, at first, to believe that
Beringhen had been carried off by a party such as this, yet as it was
known that he had no enemies, that he was not reputed sufficiently rich
to afford hope of a large ransom, and that not one of our wealthiest
financiers had been seized in this manner, this explanation was at last
accepted as the right one.

So in fact it proved. A certain Guetem, a fiddler of the Elector of
Bavaria, had entered the service of Holland, had taken part in her war
against France, and had become a colonel. Chatting one evening with his
comrades, he laid a wager that he would carry off some one of mark
between Paris and Versailles. He obtained a passport, and thirty chosen
men, nearly all of whom were officers. They passed the rivers disguised
as traders, by which means they were enabled to post their relays [of
horses]. Several of them had remained seven or eight days at Sevres,
Saint Cloud, and Boulogne, from which they had the hardihood to go to
Versailles and see the King sup. One of these was caught on the day
after the disappearance of Beringhen, and when interrogated by
Chamillart, replied with a tolerable amount of impudence. Another was
caught in the forest of Chantilly by one of the servants of M. le Prince.
From him it became known that relays of horses and a post-chaise had been
provided at Morliere for the prisoner when he should arrive there, and
that he had already passed the Oise.

As I have said, couriers were despatched to the governors of the
frontiers; in addition to this, information of what had taken place was
sent to all the intendants of the frontier, to all the troops in quarters
there. Several of the King's guards, too, and the grooms of the stable,
went in pursuit of the captors of Beringhen. Notwithstanding the
diligence used, the horsemen had traversed the Somme and had gone four
leagues beyond Ham-Beringhen, guarded by the officers, and pledged to
offer no resistance--when the party was stopped by a quartermaster and
two detachments of the Livry regiment. Beringhen was at once set at
liberty. Guetem and his companion were made prisoners.

The grand fault they had committed was to allow the King's carriage and
the footmen to go back to Versailles so soon after the abduction. Had
they led away the coach under cover of the night, and so kept the King in
ignorance of their doings until the next day, they would have had more
time for their retreat. Instead of doing this they fatigued themselves
by too much haste. They had grown tired of waiting for a carriage that
seemed likely to contain somebody of mark. The Chancellor had passed,
but in broad daylight, and they were afraid in consequence to stop him.
M. le Duc d'Orleans had passed, but in a post-chaise, which they
mistrusted. At last Beringhen appeared in one of the King's coaches,
attended by servants in the King's livery, and wearing his cordon Neu, as
was his custom. They thought they had found a prize indeed. They soon
learnt with whom they had to deal, and told him also who they were.
Guetem bestowed upon Beringhen all kinds of attention, and testified a
great desire to spare him as much as possible all fatigue. He pushed his
attentions so far that they caused his failure. He allowed Beringhen to
stop and rest on two occasions. The party missed one of their relays,
and that delayed them very much.

Beringhen, delighted with his rescue, and very grateful for the good
treatment he had received, changed places with Guetem and his companions,
led them to Ham, and in his turn treated them well. He wrote to his wife
and to Charnillart announcing his release, and these letters were read
with much satisfaction by the King.

On Tuesday, the 29th of March, Beringhen arrived at Versailles, about
eight o'clock in the evening, and went at once to the King, who was in
the apartments of Madame de Maintenon, and who received him well, and
made him relate all his adventures. But the King was not pleased when he
found the officers of the stable in a state of great delight, and
preparing fireworks to welcome Beringhen back. He prohibited all these
marks of rejoicing, and would not allow the fireworks to be let off. He
had these little jealousies. He wished that all should be devoted to him
alone, without reserve and without division. All the Court, however,
showed interest in this return, and Beringhen was consoled by the public
welcome he received for his fatigue.

Guetem and his officers, while waiting the pleasure of the King, were
lodged in Beringhen's house in Paris, where they were treated above their
deserts. Beringhen obtained permission for Guetem to see the King. He
did more; he presented Guetem to the King, who praised him for having so
well treated his prisoner, and said that war always ought to be conducted
properly. Guetem, who was not without wit, replied, that he was so
astonished to find himself before the greatest King in the world, and to
find that King doing him the honour of speaking to him, that he had not
power enough to answer. He remained ten or twelve days in Beringhen's
house to see Paris, the Opera and the Comedy, and became the talk of the
town. People ran after him everywhere, and the most distinguished were
not ashamed to do likewise. On all sides he was applauded for an act of
temerity, which might have passed for insolence. Beringhen regaled him,
furnished him with carriages and servants to accompany him, and, at
parting, with money and considerable presents. Guetem went on his parole
to Rheims to rejoin his comrades until exchanged, and had the town for
prison. Nearly all the others had escaped. The project was nothing less
than to carry off Monseigneur, or one of the princes, his sons.

This ridiculous adventure gave rise to precautions, excessive in the
first place, and which caused sad obstructions of bridges and gates. It
caused, too, a number of people to be arrested. The hunting parties of
the princes were for some time interfered with, until matters resumed
their usual course. But it was not bad fun to see, during some time, the
terror of ladies, and even of men, of the Court, who no longer dared go
abroad except in broad daylight, even then with little assurance, and
imagining themselves everywhere in marvellous danger of capture.

I have related in its proper place the adventure of Madame la Princesse
de Conti with Mademoiselle Choin and the attachment of Monseigneur for
the latter. This attachment was only augmented by the difficulty of
seeing each other.

Mademoiselle Choin retired to the house of Lacroix, one of her relatives
at Paris, where she lived quite hidden. She was informed of the rare
days when Monseigneur dined alone at Meudon, without sleeping there. She
went there the day before in a fiacre, passed through the courts on foot,
ill clad, like a common sort of woman going to see some officer at
Meudon, and, by a back staircase, was admitted to Monseigneur who passed
some hours with her in a little apartment on the first floor. In time
she came there with a lady's-maid, her parcel in her pocket, on the
evenings of the days that Monseigneur slept there.

She remained in this apartment without seeing anybody, attended by her
lady's-maid, and waited upon by a servant who alone was in the secret.

Little by little the friends of Monseigneur were allowed to see her;
and amongst these were M. le Prince de Conti, Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne, Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, and M. le Duc de Berry.
There was always, however, an air of mystery about the matter. The
parties that took place were kept secret, although frequent, and were
called parvulos.

Mademoiselle Choin remained in her little apartment only for the
convenience of Monseigneur. She slept in the bed and in the grand
apartment where Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne lodged when the King was
at Meudon. She always sat in an arm-chair before Monseigneur; Madame de
Bourgogne sat on a stool. Mademoiselle Choin never rose for her; in
speaking of her, even before Monseigneur and the company, she used to say
"the Duchesse de Bourgogne," and lived with her as Madame de Maintenon
did excepting that "darling" and "my aunt," were terms not exchanged
between them, and that Madame de Bourgogne was not nearly so free, or so
much at her ease, as with the King and Madame de Maintenon. Monsieur de
Bourgogne was much in restraint. His manners did not agree with those of
that world. Monseigneur le Duc de Berry, who was more free, was quite at

Mademoiselle Choin went on fete-days to hear mass in the chapel at six
o'clock in the morning, well wrapped up, and took her meals alone, when
Monseigneur did not eat with her. When he was alone with her, the doors
were all guarded and barricaded to keep out intruders. People regarded
her as being to Monseigneur, what Madame de Maintenon was to the King.
All the batteries for the future were directed and pointed towards her.
People schemed to gain permission to visit her at Paris; people paid
court to her friends and acquaintances, Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne
sought to please her, was respectful to her, attentive to her friends,
not always with success. She acted towards Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne like a mother-in-law, and sometimes spoke with such authority
and bluntness to Madame de Bourgogne as to make her cry.

The King and Madame de Maintenon were in no way ignorant of all this, but
they held their tongues, and all the Court who knew it, spoke only in
whispers of it. This is enough for the present; it will serve to explain
many things, of which I shall speak anon.


On Wednesday, the 27th of May, 1707, at three o'clock in the morning,
Madame de Montespan, aged sixty, died very suddenly at the waters of
Bourbon. Her death made much stir, although she had long retired from
the Court and from the world, and preserved no trace of the commanding
influence she had so long possessed. I need not go back beyond my own
experience, and to the time of her reign as mistress of the King. I will
simply say, because the anecdote is little known, that her conduct was
more the fault of her husband than her own. She warned him as soon as
she suspected the King to be in love with her; and told him when there
was no longer any doubt upon her mind. She assured him that a great
entertainment that the King gave was in her honour. She pressed him,
she entreated him in the most eloquent manner, to take her away to his
estates of Guyenne, and leave her there until the King had forgotten her
or chosen another mistress. It was all to no purpose; and Montespan was
not long before repentance seized him; for his torment was that he loved
her all his life, and died still in love with her--although he would
never consent to see her again after the first scandal.

Nor will I speak of the divers degrees which the fear of the devil at
various times put to her separation from the Court; and I will elsewhere
speak of Madame de Maintenon, who owed her everything, who fed her on
serpents, and who at last ousted her from the Court. What no one dared
to say, what the King himself dared not, M. du Maine, her son, dared.
M. de Meaux (Bossuet) did the rest. She went in tears and fury, and
never forgave M. du Maine, who by his strange service gained over for
ever to his interests the heart and the mighty influence of Madame de

The mistress, retired amongst the Community of Saint Joseph, which she
had built, was long in accustoming herself to it. She carried about her
idleness and unhappiness to Bourbon, to Fontevrault, to D'Antin; she was
many years without succeeding in obtaining mastery over herself. At last
God touched her. Her sin had never been accompanied by forgetfulness;
she used often to leave the King to go and pray in her cabinet; nothing
could ever make her evade any fast day or meagre day; her austerity in
fasting continued amidst all her dissipation. She gave alms, was
esteemed by good people, never gave way to doubt of impiety; but she was
imperious, haughty and overbearing, full of mockery, and of all the
qualities by which beauty with the power it bestows is naturally
accompanied. Being resolved at last to take advantage of an opportunity
which had been given her against her will, she put herself in the hands
of Pere de la Tour, that famous General of the Oratory. From that moment
to the time of her death her conversion continued steadily, and her
penitence augmented. She had first to get rid of the secret fondness she
still entertained for the Court, even of the hopes which, however
chimerical, had always flattered her. She was persuaded that nothing but
the fear of the devil had forced the King to separate himself from her,
that it was nothing but this fear that had raised Madame de Maintenon to
the height she had attained; that age and ill-health, which she was
pleased to imagine, would soon clear the way; that when the King was a
widower, she being a widow, nothing would oppose their reunion, which
might easily be brought about by their affection for their children.
These children entertained similar hopes, and were therefore assiduous in
their attention to her for some time.

Pere de la Tour made her perform a terrible act of penitence. It was to
ask pardon of her husband, and to submit herself to his commands. To all
who knew Madame de Montespan this will seem the most heroic sacrifice.
M. de Montespan, however, imposed no restraint upon his wife. He sent
word that he wished in no way to interfere with her, or even to see her.
She experienced no further trouble, therefore, on this score.

Little by little she gave almost all she had to the poor. She worked for
them several hours a day, making stout shirts and such things for them.
Her table, that she had loved to excess, became the most frugal; her
fasts multiplied; she would interrupt her meals in order to go and pray.
Her mortifications were continued; her chemises and her sheets were of
rough linen, of the hardest and thickest kind, but hidden under others of
ordinary kind. She unceasingly wore bracelets, garters, and a girdle,
all armed with iron points, which oftentimes inflicted wounds upon her;
and her tongue, formerly so dangerous, had also its peculiar penance
imposed on it. She was, moreover, so tormented with the fear of death,
that she employed several women, whose sole occupation was to watch her.
She went to sleep with all the curtains of her bed open, many lights in
her chamber, and her women around her. Whenever she awoke she wished to
find them chatting, playing, or enjoying themselves, so as to re-assure
herself against their drowsiness.

With all this she could never throw off the manners of a queen. She had
an arm-chair in her chamber with its back turned to the foot of the bed.
There was no other in the chamber, not even when her natural children
came to see her, not even for Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans. She was
oftentimes visited by the most distinguished people of the Court, and she
spoke like a queen to all. She treated everybody with much respect, and
was treated so in turn. I have mentioned in its proper place, that a
short time before her death, the King gave her a hundred thousand francs
to buy an estate; but this present was not gratis, for she had to send
back a necklace worth a hundred and fifty thousand, to which the King
made additions, and bestowed it on the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

The last time Madame de Montespan went to Bourbon she paid all her
charitable pensions and gratuities two years in advance and doubled her
alms. Although in good health she had a presentiment that she should
return no more. This presentiment, in effect, proved correct. She felt
herself so ill one night, although she had been very well just before,
that she confessed herself, and received the sacrament. Previous to this
she called all her servants into her room and made a public confession of
her public sins, asking pardon for the scandal she had caused with a
humility so decent, so profound, so penitent, that nothing could be more
edifying. She received the last sacrament with an ardent piety. The
fear of death which all her life had so continually troubled her,
disappeared suddenly, and disturbed her no more. She died, without
regret, occupied only with thoughts of eternity, and with a sweetness and
tranquillity that accompanied all her actions.

Her only son by Monsieur de Montespan, whom she had treated like a
mother-in-law, until her separation from the King, but who had since
returned to her affection, D'Antin, arrived just before her death. She
looked at him, and only said that he saw her in a very different state to
what he had seen her at Bellegarde. As soon as she was dead he set out
for Paris, leaving orders for her obsequies, which were strange, or were
strangely executed. Her body, formerly so perfect, became the prey of
the unskilfulness and the ignorance of a surgeon. The obsequies were at
the discretion of the commonest valets, all the rest of the house having
suddenly deserted. The body remained a long time at the door of the
house, whilst the canons of the Sainte Chapelle and the priests of the
parish disputed about the order of precedence with more than indecency.
It was put in keeping under care of the parish, like the corpse of the
meanest citizen of the place, and not until a long time afterwards was it
sent to Poitiers to be placed in the family tomb, and then with an
unworthy parsimony. Madame de Montespan was bitterly regretted by all
the poor of the province, amongst whom she spread an infinity of alms, as
well as amongst others of different degree.

As for the King, his perfect insensibility at the death of a mistress he
had so passionately loved, and for so many years, was so extreme, that
Madame de Bourgogne could not keep her surprise from him. He replied,
tranquilly, that since he had dismissed her he had reckoned upon never
seeing her again, and that thus she was from that time dead to him. It
is easy to believe that the grief of the children he had had by her did
not please him. Those children did not dare to wear mourning for a
mother not recognised. Their appearance, therefore, contrasted with that
of the children of Madame de la Valliere, who had just died, and for whom
they were wearing mourning. Nothing could equal the grief which Madame
la Duchesse d'Orleans, Madame la Duchesse, and the Comte de Toulouse
exhibited. The grief of Madame la Duchesse especially was astonishing,
for she always prided herself on loving nobody; still more astonishing
was the grief of M. le Duc, so inaccessible to friendship. We must
remember, however, that this death put an end to many hopes. M. du
Maine, for his part, could scarcely repress his joy at the death of his
mother, and after having stopped away from Marly two days, returned and
caused the Comte de Toulouse to be recalled likewise. Madame de
Maintenon, delivered of a former rival, whose place she had taken, ought,
it might have been thought, to have felt relieved. It was otherwise;
remorse for the benefits she had received from Madame de Montespan, and
for the manner in which those benefits had been repaid, overwhelmed her.
Tears stole down her cheeks, and she went into a strange privacy to hide
them. Madame de Bourgogne, who followed, was speechless with

The life and conduct of so famous a mistress, subsequent to her forced
retirement, have appeared to me sufficiently curious to describe at
length; and what happened at her death was equally characteristic of the

The death of the Duchesse de Nemours, which followed quickly upon that of
Madame de Montespart, made still more stir in the world, but of another
kind. Madame de Nemours was daughter, by a first marriage, of the last
Duc de Longueville. She was extremely rich, and lived in great
splendour. She had a strange look, and a droll way of dressing, big
eyes, with which she could scarcely see, a shoulder that constantly
twitched, grey hairs that she wore flowing, and a very imposing air.
She had a very bad temper, and could not forgive. When somebody asked
her if she said the Pater, she replied, yes, but that she passed by
without saying it the clause respecting pardon for our enemies. She did
not like her kinsfolk, the Matignons, and would never see nor speak to
any of them. One day talking to the King at a window of his cabinet,
she saw Matignon passing in the court below. Whereupon she set to
spitting five or six times running, and then turned to the King and
begged his pardon, saying, that she could never see a Matignon without
spitting in that manner. It may be imagined that devotion did not
incommode her. She herself used to tell a story, that having entered one
day a confessional, without being followed into the church, neither her
appearance nor her dress gave her confessor an idea of her rank. She
spoke of her great wealth, and said much about the Princes de Conde and
de Conti. The confessor told her to pass by all that. She, feeling that
the case was a serious one, insisted upon explaining and made allusion to
her large estates and her millions. The good priest believed her mad,
and told her to calm herself; to get rid of such ideas; to think no more
of them; and above all to eat good soups, if she had the means to procure
them. Seized with anger she rose and left the place. The confessor out
of curiosity followed her to the door. When he saw the good lady, whom
he thought mad, received by grooms, waiting women, and so on, he had like
to have fallen backwards; but he ran to the coach door and asked her
pardon. It was now her turn to laugh at him, and she got off scot-free
that day from the confessional.

Madame de Nemours had amongst other possessions the sovereignty of
Neufchatel. As soon as she was dead, various claimants arose to dispute
the succession. Madame de Mailly laid claim to it, as to the succession
to the principality of Orange, upon the strength of a very doubtful
alliance with the house of Chalons, and hoped to be supported by Madame
de Maintenon. But Madame de Maintenon laughed at her chimeras, as they
were laughed at in Switzerland.

M. le Prince de Conti was another claimant. He based his right upon the
will of the last Duc de Longueville, by which he had been called to all
the Duke's wealth, after the Comte de Saint Paul, his brother, and his
posterity. In addition to these, there were Matignon and the dowager
Duchesse de Lesdiguieres, who claimed Neufchatel by right of their
relationship to Madame de Nemours.

Matignon was an intimate friend of Chamillart, who did not like the
Prince de Conti, and was the declared enemy of the Marechal de Villeroy,
the representative of Madame de Lesdiguieres, in this affair.
Chamillart, therefore, persuaded the King to remain neutral, and aided
Matignon by money and influence to get the start of the other claimants.

The haughty citizens of Neufchatel saw then all these suitors begging for
their suffrages, when a minister of the Elector of Brandenbourg appeared
amongst them, and disputed the pretensions of the Prince de Conti in
favour of his master, the Elector of Brandenbourg (King of Prussia), who
drew his claim from the family of Chalons. It was more distant; more
entangled if possible, than that of Madame de Mailly. He only made use
of it, therefore, as a pretext. His reasons were his religion, in
conformity with that of the country; the support of the neighbouring
Protestant cantons, allies, and protectors of Neufchatel; the pressing
reflection that the principality of Orange having fallen by the death of
William III. to M. le Prince de Conti, the King (Louis XIV.) had
appropriated it and recompensed him for it: and that he might act
similarly if Neufchatel fell to one of his subjects; lastly, a treaty
produced in good form, by which, in the event of the death of Madame de
Nemours, England and Holland agreed to declare for the Elector of
Brandenbourg, and to assist him by force in procuring this little state.
This minister of the Elector was in concert with the Protestant cantons,
who upon his declaration at once sided with him; and who, by the money
spent, the conformity of religion, the power of the Elector, the
reflection of what had happened at Orange, found nearly all the suffrages
favourable. So striking while the iron was hot, they obtained a
provisional judgment from Neufchatel, which adjudged their state to the
Elector until the peace; and in consequence of this, his minister was put
into actual possession, and M. le Prince de Conti saw himself constrained
to return more shamefully than he had returned once before, and was
followed by the other claimants.

Madame de Mailly made such an uproar at the news of this intrusion of the
Elector, that at last the attention of our ministers was awakened. They
found, with her, that it was the duty of the King not to allow this
morsel to be carried off from his subjects; and that there was danger in
leaving it in the hands of such a powerful Protestant prince, capable of
making a fortified place of it so close to the county of Burgundy, and on
a frontier so little protected. Thereupon, the King despatched a courier
to our minister in Switzerland, with orders to go to Neufchatel, and
employ every means, even menaces, to exclude the Elector, and to promise
that the neutrality of France should be maintained if one of her subjects
was selected, no matter which one. It was too late. The affair was
finished; the cantons were engaged, without means of withdrawing. They,
moreover, were piqued into resistance, by an appeal to their honour by
the electoral minister, who insisted on the menaces of Puysieux, our
representative, to whose memoir the ministers of England and Holland
printed a violent reply. The provisional judgment received no
alteration. Shame was felt; and resentment was testified during six
weeks; after which, for lack of being able to do better, this resentment
was appeased of itself. It may be imagined what hope remained to the
claimants of reversing at the peace this provisional judgment, and of
struggling against a prince so powerful and so solidly supported. No
mention of it was afterwards made, and Neufchatel has remained ever since
fully and peaceably to this prince, who was even expressly confirmed in
his possession at the peace by France.

The armies assembled this year towards the end of May, and the campaign
commenced. The Duc de Vendome was in command in Flanders, under the
Elector of Bavaria, and by his slothfulness and inattention, allowed
Marlborough to steal a march upon him, which, but for the failure of some
of the arrangements, might have caused serious loss to our troops. The
enemy was content to keep simply on the defensive after this, having
projects of attack in hand elsewhere to which I shall soon allude.

On the Rhine, the Marechal de Villars was in command, and was opposed by
the Marquis of Bayreuth, and afterwards by the Duke of Hanover, since
King of England. Villars was so far successful, that finding himself
feebly opposed by the Imperials, he penetrated into Germany, after having
made himself master of Heidelberg, Mannheim, and all the Palatinate, and
seized upon a number of cannons, provisions, and munitions of war. He
did not forget to tax the enemy wherever he went. He gathered immense
sums--treasures beyond all his hopes. Thus gorged, he could not hope
that his brigandage would remain unknown. He put on a bold face and
wrote to the King, that the army would cost him nothing this year.
Villars begged at the same time to be allowed to appropriate some of the
money he had acquired to the levelling of a hill on his estate which
displeased him. Another than he would have been dishonoured by such a
request. But it made no difference in his respect, except with the
public, with whom, however, he occupied himself but little. His booty
clutched, he thought of withdrawing from the enemy's country, and passing
the Rhine.

He crossed it tranquilly, with his army and his immense booty, despite
the attempts of the Duke of Hanover to prevent him, and as soon as he was
on this side, had no care but how to terminate the campaign in repose.
Thus finished a campaign tolerably brilliant, if the sordid and
prodigious gain of the general had not soiled it. Yet that general, on
his return, was not less well received by the King.

At sea we had successes. Frobin, with vessels more feeble than the four
English ones of seventy guns, which convoyed a fleet of eighteen ships
loaded with provisions and articles of war, took two of those vessels of
war and the eighteen merchantmen, after four hours' fighting, and set
fire to one of the two others. Three months after he took at the mouth
of the Dwiria seven richly-loaded Dutch merchant-ships, bound for
Muscovy. He took or sunk more than fifty during this campaign.
Afterwards he took three large English ships of war that he led to Brest,
and sank another of a hundred guns. The English of New England and of
New York were not more successful in Acadia; they attacked our colony
twelve days running, without success, and were obliged to retire with
much loss.

The maritime year finished by a terrible tempest upon the coast of
Holland, which caused many vessels to perish in the Texel, and submerged
a large number of districts and villages. France had also its share of
these catastrophes. The Loire overflowed in a manner hitherto unheard
of, broke down the embankments, inundated and covered with sand many
parts of the country, carried away villages, drowned numbers of people
and a quantity of cattle, and caused damage to the amount of above eight
millions. This was another of our obligations to M. de la Feuillade--an
obligation which we have not yet escaped from. Nature, wiser than man,
had placed rocks in the Loire above Roanne, which prevented navigation to
that place, the principal in the duchy of M. de la Feuillade. His
father, tempted by the profit of this navigation, wished to get rid of
the rocks. Orleans, Blois, Tours, in one word, all the places on the
Loire, opposed this. They represented the danger of inundations; they
were listened to, and although the M. de la Feuillade of that day was a
favourite, and on good terms with M. Colbert, he was not allowed to carry
out his wishes with respect to these rocks. His son, the M. de la
Feuillade whom we have seen figuring with so little distinction at the
siege of Turin, had more credit. Without listening to anybody, he blew
up the rocks, and the navigation was rendered free in his favour; the
inundations that they used to prevent have overflowed since at immense
loss to the King and private individuals. The cause was clearly seen
afterwards, but then it was too late.

The little effort made by the enemy in Flanders and Germany, had a cause,
which began to be perceived towards the middle of July. We had been
forced to abandon Italy. By a shameful treaty that was made, all our
troops had retired from that country into Savoy. We had given up
everything. Prince Eugene, who had had the glory of driving us out of
Italy, remained there some time, and then entered the county of Nice.

Forty of the enemy's vessels arrived at Nice shortly afterwards, and
landed artillery. M. de Savoie arrived there also, with six or seven
thousand men. It was now no longer hidden that the siege of Toulon was
determined on. Every preparation was at once made to defend the place.
Tesse was in command. The delay of a day on the part of the enemy saved
Toulon, and it may be said, France. M. de Savoie had been promised money
by the English. They disputed a whole day about the payment, and so
retarded the departure of the fleet from Nice. In the end, seeing M. de
Savoie firm, they paid him a million, which he received himself. But in
the mean time twenty-one of our battalions had had time to arrive at
Toulon. They decided the fortune of the siege. After several
unsuccessful attempts to take the place, the enemy gave up the siege and
retired in the night, between the 22nd and 23rd of August, in good order,
and without being disturbed. Our troops could obtain no sort of
assistance from the people of Provence, so as to harass M. de Savoie in
his passage of the Var. They refused money, militia, and provisions
bluntly, saying that it was no matter to them who came, and that M. de
Savoie could not torment them more than they were tormented already.

The important news of a deliverance so desired arrived at Marly on
Friday, the 26th of August, and overwhelmed all the Court with joy. A
scandalous fuss arose, however, out of this event. The first courier who
brought the intelligence of it, had been despatched by the commander of
the fleet, and had been conducted to the King by Pontchartrain, who had
the affairs of the navy under his control. The courier sent by Tesse,
who commanded the land forces, did not arrive until some hours after the
other. Chamillart, who received this second courier, was piqued to
excess that Pontchartrain had outstripped him with the news. He declared
that the news did not belong to the navy, and consequently Pontchartrain
had no right to carry it to the King. The public, strangely enough,
sided with Chamillart, and on every side Pontchartrain was treated as a
greedy usurper. Nobody had sufficient sense to reflect upon the anger
which a master would feel against a servant who, having the information
by which that master could be relieved from extreme anxiety, should yet
withhold the information for six or eight hours, on the ground that to
tell it was the duty of another servant!

The strangest thing is, that the King, who was the most interested, had
not the force to declare himself on either side, but kept silent. The
torrent was so impetuous that Pontchartrain had only to lower his head,
keep silent, and let the waters pass. Such was the weakness of the King
for his ministers. I recollect that, in 1702, the Duc de Villeroy
brought to Marly the important news of the battle of Luzzara. But,
because Chamillart was not there, he hid himself, left the King and the
Court in the utmost anxiety, and did not announce his news until long
after, when Chamillart, hearing of his arrival, hastened to join him and
present him to the King. The King was so far from being displeased, that
he made the Duc de Villeroy Lieutenant-General before dismissing him.

There is another odd thing that I must relate before quitting this
affair. Tesse, as I have said, was charged with the defence of Toulon by
land. It was a charge of no slight importance. He was in a country
where nothing was prepared, and where everything was wanting; the fleet
of the enemy and their army were near at hand, commanded by two of the
most skilful captains of the day: if they succeeded, the kingdom itself
was in danger, and the road open to the enemy even to Paris. A general
thus situated would have been in no humour for jesting, it might have
been thought. But this was not the case with Tesse. He found time to
write to Pontchartrain all the details of the war and all that passed
amongst our troops in the style of Don Quixote, of whom he called himself
the wretched squire and the Sancho; and everything he wrote he adapted to
the adventures of that romance. Pontchartrain showed me these letters;
they made him die with laughing, he admired them so; and in truth they
were very comical, and he imitated that romance with more wit than I
believed him to possess. It appeared to me incredible, however, that a
man should write thus, at such a critical time, to curry, favour with a
secretary of state. I could not have believed it had I not seen it.



I went this summer to Forges, to try, by means of the waters there, to
get rid of a tertian fever that quinquina only suspended. While there I
heard of a new enterprise on the part of the Princes of the blood, who,
in the discredit in which the King held them, profited without measure by
his desire for the grandeur of the illegitimate children, to acquire new
advantages which were suffered because the others shared them. This was
the case in question.

After the elevation of the mass--at the King's communion--a folding-chair
was pushed to the foot of the altar, was covered with a piece of stuff,
and then with a large cloth, which hung down before and behind. At the
Pater the chaplain rose and whispered in the King's ear the names of all
the Dukes who were in the chapel. The King named two, always the oldest,
to each of whom the chaplain advanced and made a reverence. During the
communion of the priest the King rose, and went and knelt down on the
bare floor behind this folding seat, and took hold of the cloth; at the
same time the two Dukes, the elder on the right, the other on the left,
each took hold of a corner of the cloth; the two chaplains took hold of
the other two corners of the same cloth, on the side of the altar, all
four kneeling, and the captain of the guards also kneeling and behind the
King. The communion received and the oblation taken some moments
afterwards, the King remained a little while in the same place, then
returned to his own, followed by the two Dukes and the captain of the
guards, who took theirs. If a son of France happened to be there alone,
he alone held the right corner of the cloth, and nobody the other; and
when M. le Duc d'Orleans was there, and no son of France was present, M.
le Duc d'Orleans held the cloth in like manner. If a Prince of the blood
were alone present, however, he held the cloth, but a Duke was called
forward to assist him. He was not privileged to act without the Duke.

The Princes of the blood wanted to change this; they were envious of the
distinction accorded to M. d'Orleans, and wished to put themselves on the
same footing. Accordingly, at the Assumption of this year, they managed
so well that M. le Duc served alone at the altar at the King's communion,
no Duke being called upon to come and join him. The surprise at this was
very great. The Duc de la Force and the Marechal de Boufflers, who ought
to have served, were both present. I wrote to this last to say that such
a thing had never happened before, and that it was contrary to all
precedent. I wrote, too, to M. d'Orleans, who was then in Spain,
informing him of the circumstance. When he returned he complained to the
King. But the King merely said that the Dukes ought to have presented
themselves and taken hold of the cloth. But how could they have done so,
without being requested, as was customary, to come forward? What would
the king have thought of them if they had? To conclude, nothing could be
made of the matter, and it remained thus. Never then, since that time,
did I go to the communions of the King.

An incident occurred at Marly about the same time, which made much stir.
The ladies who were invited to Marly had the privilege of dining with the
King. Tables were placed for them, and they took up positions according
to their rank. The non-titled ladies had also their special place. It
so happened one day; that Madame de Torcy (an untitled lady) placed
herself above the Duchesse de Duras, who arrived at table a moment after
her. Madame de Torcy offered to give up her place, but it was a little
late, and the offer passed away in compliments. The King entered, and
put himself at table. As soon as he sat down, he saw the place Madame de
Torcy had taken, and fixed such a serious and surprised look upon her,
that she again offered to give up her place to the Duchesse de Duras; but
the offer was again declined. All through the dinner the King scarcely
ever took his eyes off Madame de Torcy, said hardly a word, and bore a
look of anger that rendered everybody very attentive, and even troubled
the Duchesse de Duras.

Upon rising from the table, the King passed, according to custom, into
the apartments of Madame de Maintenon, followed by the Princesses of the
blood, who grouped themselves around him upon stools; the others who
entered, kept at a distance. Almost before he had seated himself in his
chair, he said to Madame de Maintenon, that he had just been witness of
an act of "incredible insolence" (that was the term he used) which had
thrown him into such a rage that he had been unable to eat: that such an
enterprise would have been insupportable in a woman of the highest
quality; but coming, as it did, from a mere bourgeoise, it had so
affected him, that ten times he had been upon the point of making her
leave the table, and that he was only restrained by consideration for her
husband. After this outbreak he made a long discourse upon the genealogy
of Madame de Torcy's family, and other matters; and then, to the
astonishment of all present, grew as angry as ever against Madame de
Torcy. He went off then into a discourse upon the dignity of the Dukes,
and in conclusion, he charged the Princesses to tell Madame de Torcy to
what extent he had found her conduct impertinent. The Princesses looked
at each other, and not one seemed to like this commission; whereupon the
King, growing more angry, said; that it must be undertaken however, and
left the robes; The news of what had taken place, and of the King's
choler, soon spread all over the Court. It was believed, however, that
all was over, and that no more would be heard of the matter. Yet the
very same evening the King broke out again with even more bitterness than
before. On the morrow, too, surprise was great indeed, when it was found
that the King, immediately after dinner, could talk of nothing but this
subject, and that, too, without any softening of tone. At last he was
assured that Madame de Torcy had been spoken to, and this appeased him a
little. Torcy was obliged to write him a letter, apologising for the
fault of Madame de Torcy; and the King at this grew content. It may be
imagined what a sensation this adventure produced all through the Court.

While upon the subject of the King, let me relate an anecdote of him,
which should have found a place ere this. When M. d'Orleans was about to
start for Spain, he named the officers who were to be of his suite.
Amongst others was Fontpertius. At that name the King put on a serious

"What! my nephew," he said. "Fontpertius! the son of a Jansenist--of
that silly woman who ran everywhere after M. Arnould! I do not wish that
man to go with you."

"By my faith, Sire," replied the Duc d'Orleans, "I know not what the
mother has done; but as for the son, he is far enough from being a
Jansenist, I'll answer for it; for he does not believe in God."

"Is it possible, my nephew?" said the King, softening.

"Nothing more certain, Sire, I assure you."

"Well, since it is so," said the King, "there is no harm: you can take
him with you."

This scene--for it can be called by no other name--took place in the
morning. After dinner M. d'Orleans repeated it to me, bursting with
laughter, word for word, just as I have written it. When we had both
well laughed at this, we admired the profound instruction of a discreet
and religious King, who considered it better not to believe in God than
to be a Jansenist, and who thought there was less danger to his nephew
from the impiety of an unbeliever than from the doctrines of a sectarian.
M. d'Orleans could not contain himself while he told the story, and never
spoke of it without laughing until the tears came into his eyes. It ran
all through the Court and all over the town, and the marvellous thing
was, that the King was not angry at this. It was a testimony of his
attachment to the good doctrine which withdrew him further and further
from Jansenism. The majority of people laughed with all their heart.
Others, more wise, felt rather disposed to weep than to laugh, in
considering to what excess of blindness the King had reached.

For a long time a most important project had knocked at every door,
without being able to obtain a hearing anywhere. The project was this:--
Hough, an English gentleman full of talent and knowledge, and who, above
all, knew profoundly the laws of his country, had filled various posts in
England. As first a minister by profession, and furious against King
James; afterwards a Catholic and King James's spy, he had been delivered
up to King William, who pardoned him. He profited by this only to
continue his services to James. He was taken several times, and always
escaped from the Tower of London and other prisons. Being no longer able
to dwell in England he came to France, where he occupied himself always
with the same line of business, and was paid for that by the King (Louis
XIV.) and by King James, the latter of whom he unceasingly sought to re-
establish. The union of Scotland with England appeared to him a
favourable conjuncture, by the despair of that ancient kingdom at seeing
itself reduced into a province under the yoke of the English. The
Jacobite party remained there; the vexation caused by this forced union
had increased it, by the desire felt to break that union with the aid of
a King that they would have reestablished. Hough, who was aware of the
fermentation going on, made several secret journeys to Scotland, and
planned an invasion of that country; but, as I have said, for a long time
could get no one to listen to him.

The King, indeed, was so tired of such enterprises, that nobody dared to
speak to him upon this. All drew back. No one liked to bell the cat.
At last, however, Madame de Maintenon being gained over, the King was
induced to listen to the project. As soon as his consent was gained to
it, another scheme was added to the first. This was to profit by the
disorder in which the Spanish Low Countries were thrown, and to make them
revolt against the Imperialists at the very moment when the affair of
Scotland would bewilder the allies, and deprive them of all support from
England. Bergheyck, a man well acquainted with the state of those
countries, was consulted, and thought the scheme good. He and the Duc de
Vendome conferred upon it in presence of the King.

After talking over various matters, the discussion fell, upon the Meuse,
and its position with reference to Maastricht. Vendome held that the
Meuse flowed in a certain direction. Bergheyck opposed him. Vendome,
indignant that a civilian should dare to dispute military movements with
him, grew warm. The other remained respectful and cool, but firm.
Vendome laughed at Bergheyck, as at an ignorant fellow who did not know
the position of places. Bergheyck maintained his point. Vendome grew
more and more hot. If he was right, what he proposed was easy enough; if
wrong, it was impossible. It was in vain that Vendome pretended to treat
with disdain his opponent; Bergheyck was not to be put down, and the
King, tired out at last with a discussion upon a simple question of fact,
examined the maps. He found at once that Bergheyck was right. Any other
than the King would have felt by this what manner of man was this general
of his taste, of his heart, and of his confidence; any other than Vendome
would have been confounded; but it was Bergheyck in reality who was so,
to see the army in such hands and the blindness of the King for him! He
was immediately sent into Flanders to work up a revolt, and he did it so
well, that success seemed certain, dependent, of course, upon success in

The preparations for the invasion of that country were at once commenced.
Thirty vessels were armed at Dunkerque and in the neighbouring ports.
The Chevalier de Forbin was chosen to command the squadron. Four
thousand men were brought from Flanders to Dunkerque; and it was given
out that this movement was a mere change of garrison. The secret of the
expedition was well kept; but the misfortune was that things were done
too slowly. The fleet, which depended upon Pontchartrain, was not ready
in time, and that which depended upon Chamillart, was still more
behindhand. The two ministers threw the fault upon each other; but the
truth is, both were to blame. Pontchartrain was more than accused of
delaying matters from unwillingness; the other from powerlessness.

Great care was taken that no movement should be seen at Saint Germain.
The affair, however, began in time to get noised abroad. A prodigious
quantity of arms and clothing for the Scotch had been embarked; the
movements by sea and land became only too visible upon the coast. At
last, on Wednesday, the 6th of March, the King of England set out from
Saint Germain. He was attended by the Duke of Perth, who had been his
sub-preceptor; by the two Hamiltons, by Middleton, and a very few others.
But his departure had been postponed too long. At the moment when all
were ready to start, people learned with surprise that the English fleet
had appeared in sight, and was blockading Dunkerque. Our troops, who
were already on board ship, were at once landed. The King of England
cried out so loudly against this, and proposed so eagerly that an attempt
should be made to pass the enemy at all risks, that a fleet was sent out
to reconnoitre the enemy, and the troops were re-embarked. But then a
fresh mischance happened. The Princess of England had had the measles,
and was barely growing convalescent at the time of the departure of the
King, her brother. She had been prevented from seeing him, lest he
should be attacked by the same complaint. In spite of this precaution,
however, it declared itself upon him at Dunkerque, just as the troops
were re-embarked. He was in despair, and wished to be wrapped up in
blankets and carried on board. The doctors said that it would kill him;
and he was obliged to remain. The worst of it was, that two of five
Scotch deputies who had been hidden at Montrouge near Paris, had been
sent into Scotland a fortnight before, to announce the immediate arrival
of the King with arms and troops. The movement which it was felt this
announcement would create, increased the impatience for departure. At
last, on Saturday, the 19th of March, the King of England, half cured and
very weak, determined to embark in spite of his physicians, and did so.
The enemy's vessels hats retired; so, at six o'clock in the morning, our
ships set sail with a good breeze, and in the midst of a mist, which hid
them from view in about an hour.

Forty-eight hours after the departure of our squadron, twenty-seven
English ships of war appeared before Dunkerque. But our fleet was away.
The very first night it experienced a furious tempest. The ship in which
was the King of England took shelter afterwards behind the works of
Ostend. During the storm, another ship was separated from the squadron,
and was obliged to take refuge on the coast of Picardy. This vessel, a
frigate, was commanded by Rambure, a lieutenant. As, soon as he was able
he sailed after the squadron that he believed already in Scotland. He
directed his course towards Edinburgh, and found no vessel during all the
voyage. As he approached the mouth of the river, he saw around him a
number of barques and small vessels that he could not avoid, and that he
determined in consequence to approach with as good a grace as possible.
The masters of these ships' told him that the King was expected with
impatience, but that they had no news of him, that they had come out to
meet him, and that they would send pilots to Rambure, to conduct him up
the river to Edinburgh, where all was hope and joy. Rambure, equally
surprised that the squadron which bore the King of England had not
appeared, and by the publicity of his forthcoming arrival, went up
towards Edinburgh more and more surrounded by barques, which addressed to
him the same language. A gentleman of the country passed from one of
these barques upon the frigate. He told Rambure that the principal
noblemen of Scotland had resolved to act together, that these noblemen
could count upon more than twenty thousand men ready to take up arms, and
that all the towns awaited only the arrival of the King to proclaim him.

More and more troubled that the squadron did not appear, Rambure, after a
time, turned back and went in search of it. As he approached the mouth
of the river, which he had so lately entered, he heard a great noise of
cannon out at sea, and a short time afterwards he saw many vessels of war
there. Approaching more and more, and quitting the river, he
distinguished our squadron, chased by twenty-six large ships of war and a
number of other vessels, all of which he soon lost sight of, so much was
our squadron in advance. He continued on his course in order to join
them; but he could not do so until all had passed by the mouth of the
river. Then steering clear of the rear-guard of the English ships, he
remarked that the English fleet was hotly chasing the ship of the King of
England, which ran along the coast, however, amid the fire of cannon and
oftentimes of musketry. Rambure tried, for a long time, to profit by the
lightness of his frigate to get ahead; but, always cut off by the enemy's
vessels, and continually in danger of being taken, he returned to
Dunkerque, where he immediately despatched to the Court this sad and
disturbing news. He was followed, five or six days after, by the King of
England, who returned to Dunkerque on the 7th of April, with his vessels
badly knocked about.

It seems that the ship in which was the Prince, after experiencing the
storm I have already alluded to, set sail again with its squadron, but
twice got out of its reckoning within forty-eight hours; a fact not easy
to understand in a voyage from Ostend to Edinburgh. This circumstance
gave time to the English to join them; thereupon the King held a council,
and much time was lost in deliberations. When the squadron drew near the
river, the enemy was so close upon us, that to enter, without fighting
either inside or out, seemed impossible. In this emergency it was
suggested that our ships should go on to Inverness, about eighteen or
twenty leagues further off. But this was objected to by Middleton and
the Chevalier Forbin, who declared that the King of England was expected
only at Edinburgh, and that it was useless to go elsewhere; and
accordingly the project was given up, and the ships returned to France.

This return, however, was not accomplished without some difficulty. The
enemy's fleet attacked the rear guard of ours, and after an obstinate
combat, took two vessels of war and some other vessels. Among the
prisoners made by the English were the Marquis de Levi, Lord Griffin, and
the two sons of Middleton; who all, after suffering some little bad
treatment, were conducted to London.

Lord Griffin was an old Englishman, who deserves a word of special
mention. A firm Protestant, but much attached to the King of England, he
knew nothing of this expedition until after the King's departure. He
went immediately in quest of the Queen. With English freedom he
reproached her for the little confidence she had had in him, in spite of
his services and his constant fidelity, and finished by assuring her that
neither his age nor his religion would hinder him from serving the King
to the last drop of his blood. He spoke so feelingly that the Queen was
ashamed. After this he went to Versailles, asked M. de Toulouse for a
hundred Louis and a horse, and without delay rode off to Dunkerque, where
he embarked with the others. In London he was condemned to death; but
he showed so much firmness and such disdain of death, that his judges
were too much ashamed to avow the execution to be carried out. The Queen
sent him one respite, then another, although he had never asked for
either, and finally he was allowed to remain at liberty in London on
parole. He always received fresh respites, and lived in London as if it
his own country, well received everywhere. Being informed that these
respites would never cease, he lived thus several years, and died very
old, a natural death. The other prisoners were equally well treated. It
was in this expedition that the King of England first assumed the title
of the Chevalier de Saint George, and that his enemies gave him that of
the Pretender; both of which have remained to him. He showed much will
and firmness, which he spoiled by a docility, the result of a bad
education, austere and confined, that devotion, ill understood, together
with the desire of maintaining him in fear and dependence, caused the
Queen (who, with all her sanctity, always wished to dominate) to give
him. He asked to serve in the next campaign in Flanders, and wished to
go there at once, or remain near Dunkerque. Service was promised him,
but he was made to return to Saint Germain. Hough, who had been made a
peer of Ireland before starting, preceded him with the journals of the
voyage, and that of Forbin, to whom the King gave a thousand crowns
pension and ten thousand as a recompense.

The King of England arrived at Saint Germain on Friday, the 20th of
April, and came with the Queen, the following Sunday, to Marly, where our
King was. The two Kings embraced each other several times, in the
presence of the two Courts. But the visit altogether was a sad one. The
Courts, which met in the garden, returned towards the Chateau, exchanging
indifferent words in an indifferent way.

Middleton was strongly suspected of having acquainted the English with
our project. They acted, at all events, as if they had been informed of
everything, and wished to appear to know nothing. They made a semblance
of sending their fleet to escort a convoy to Portugal; they got in
readiness the few troops they had in England and sent them towards
Scotland; and the Queen, under various pretexts, detained in London,
until the affair had failed, the Duke of Hamilton, the most powerful
Scotch lord; and the life and soul of the expedition. When all was over,
she made no arrests, and wisely avoided throwing Scotland into despair.
This conduct much augmented her authority in England, attached all hearts
to her, and took away all desire of stirring again by taking away all
hope of success. Thus failed a project so well and so secretly conducted
until the end, which was pitiable; and with this project failed that of
the Low Countries, which was no longer thought of.

The allies uttered loud cries against this attempt on the part of a power
they believed at its last gasp, and which, while pretending to seek
peace, thought of nothing less than the invasion of Great Britain. The
effect of our failure was to bind closer, and to irritate more and more
this formidable alliance.


Brissac, Major of the Body-guards, died of age and ennui about this time,
more than eighty years old, at his country-house, to which he had not
long retired. The King had made use of him to put the Guards upon that
grand military footing they have reached. He had acquired the confidence
of the King by his inexorable exactitude, his honesty, and his aptitude.
He was a sort of wild boar, who had all the appearance of a bad man,
without being so in reality; but his manners were, it must be admitted,
harsh and disagreeable. The King, speaking one day of the majors of the
troops, said that if they were good, they were sure to be hated.

"If it is necessary to be perfectly hated in order to be a good major,"
replied M. de Duras, who was behind the King with the baton, "behold,
Sire, the best major in France!" and he took Brissac, all confusion, by
the arm. The King laughed, though he would have thought such a sally
very bad in any other; but M. de Duras had put himself on such a free
footing, that he stopped at nothing before the King, and often said the
sharpest things. This major had very robust health, and laughed at the
doctors--very often, even before the King, at Fagon, whom nobody else
would have dared to attack. Fagon replied by disdain, often by anger,
and with all his wit was embarrassed. These short scenes were sometimes
very amusing.

Brissac, a few years before his retirement, served the Court ladies a
nice turn. All through the winter they attended evening prayers on
Thursdays and Sundays, because the King went there; and, under the
pretence of reading their prayer-books, had little tapers before them,
which cast a light on their faces, and enabled the King to recognise them
as he passed. On the evenings when they knew he would not go, scarcely
one of them went. One evening, when the King was expected, all the
ladies had arrived, and were in their places, and the guards were at
their doors. Suddenly, Brissac appeared in the King's place, lifted his
baton, and cried aloud, "Guards of the King, withdraw, return to your
quarters; the King is not coming this evening." The guards withdrew; but
after they had proceeded a short distance, were stopped by brigadiers
posted for the purpose, and told to return in a few minutes. What
Brissac had said was a joke. The ladies at once began to murmur one to
another. In a moment or two all the candles were put out, and the
ladies, with but few exceptions, left the chapel. Soon after the King
arrived, and, much astonished to see so few ladies present, asked how it
was that nobody was there. At the conclusion of the prayers Brissac
related what he had done, not without dwelling on the piety of the Court
ladies. The King and all who accompanied him laughed heartily. The
story soon spread, and these ladies would have strangled Brissac if they
had been able.

The Duchesse de Bourgogne being in the family way this spring, was much
inconvenienced. The King wished to go to Fontainebleau at the
commencement of the fine season, contrary to his usual custom; and had
declared this wish. In the mean time he desired to pay visits to Marly.
Madame de Bourgogne much amused him; he could not do without her, yet so
much movement was not suitable to her state. Madame de Maintenon was
uneasy, and Fagon gently intimated his opinion. This annoyed the King,
accustomed to restrain himself for nothing, and spoiled by having seen
his mistresses travel when big with child, or when just recovering from
their confinement, and always in full dress. The hints against going to


Back to Full Books