The Memoirs of Louis XIV. and the Regency, v3
Elizabeth-Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orleans
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MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v3
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
Henrietta of England, Monsieur's First Consort
The Due de Berri
The Duchesse de Berri
Mademoiselle d'Orleans, Louise-Adelaide de Chartres
Mademoiselle de Valois, Consort of the Prince of Modena
The Illegitimate Children of the Regent, Duc d'Orleans
The Chevalier de Lorraine
Philip V., King of Spain
The Duchess, Consort of the Duc de Bourbon
The Younger Duchess
Duc Louis de Bourbon
Francois-Louis, Prince de Conti
La Grande Princesse de Conti
The Princess Palatine, Consort of Prince Francois-Louis de Conti
The Princesse de Conti, Louise-Elizabeth, Consort of Louis-Armand
Louis-Armand, Prince de Conti
The Abbe Dubois
HENRIETTA OF ENGLAND, THE FIRST WIFE OF MONSIEUR, BROTHER OF LOUIS XIV.
It is true that the late Madame was extremely unhappy; she confided too
much in people who betrayed her: she was more to be pitied than blamed,
being connected with very wicked persons, about whom I could give some
particulars. Young, pretty and gay, she was surrounded by some of the
greatest coquettes in the world, the mistresses of her bitterest foes,
and who sought only to thrust her into some unfortunate situation and to
embroil her with Monsieur. Madame de Coetquen was the Chevalier de
Lorraine's mistress, although Madame did not know it; and she contrived
that the Marechal de Turenne should become attached to her. Madame
having told the Marshal all her secrets respecting the negotiations with
England, he repeated them to his mistress, Madame de Coetquen, whom he
believed to be devoted to his mistress. This woman went every night to
the Chevalier de Lorraine and betrayed them all. The Chevalier used this
opportunity to stir up Monsieur's indignation against Madame, telling him
that he passed with the King for a simpleton, who could not hold his
tongue; that he would lose all confidence, and that his wife would have
everything in her own hand. Monsieur wished to know all the particulars
from Madame; but she refused to tell him her brother's secrets, and this
widened the breach between them. She became enraged, and had the
Chevalier de Lorraine and his brother driven away, which in the end cost
her own life; she, however, died with the consciousness of never having
done her husband any harm. She was the confidante of the King, to whom
it had been hinted that it might be expedient to give some employment to
Monsieur, who might otherwise make himself beloved in the Court and in
the city. For this reason the King assisted Madame in her affairs of
gallantry, in order to occupy his brother. I have this from the King
himself. Madame was besides in great credit with her brother, Charles
II. (of England). Louis XIV. wished to gain him over through his sister,
wherefore it was necessary to take part with her, and she was always
better treated than I have been. The late Monsieur never suspected his
wife of infidelity with the King, her brother-in-law, he told me, all her
life, and would not have been silent with respect to this intrigue if he
had believed it. I think that with respect to this great injustice is
done to Madame. It would have been too much to deceive at once the
brother and the nephew, the father and the son.
The late Monsieur was very much disturbed at his wife's coquetry; but he
dared not behave ill to her, because she was protected by the King.
The Queen-mother of England had not brought up her children well: she at
first left them in the society of femmes de chambre, who gratified all
their caprices; and having afterwards married them at a very early age,
they followed the bad example of their mother. Both of them met with
unhappy deaths; the one was poisoned, and the other died in child-birth.
Monsieur was himself the cause of Madame's intrigue with the Comte de
Guiche. He was one of the favourites of the late Monsieur, and was said
to have been handsome once. Monsieur earnestly requested Madame to shew
some favour to the Comte de Guiche, and to permit him to wait upon her at
all times. The Count, who was brutal to every one else, but full of
vanity, took great pains to be agreeable to Madame, and to make her love
him. In fact, he succeeded, being seconded by his aunt, Madame de
Chaumont, who was the gouvernante of Madame's children. One day Madame
went to this lady's chamber, under the pretence of seeing her children,
but in fact to meet De Guiche, with whom she had an assignation. She had
a valet de chambre named Launois, whom I have since seen in the service
of Monsieur; he had orders to stand sentinel on the staircase, to give
notice in case Monsieur should approach. This Launois suddenly ran into
the room, saying, "Monsieur is coming downstairs."
The lovers were terrified to death. The Count could not escape by the
antechamber on account of Monsieur's people who were there. Launois
said, "I know a way, which I will put into practice immediately; hide
yourself," he said to the Count, "behind the door." He then ran his head
against Monsieur's nose as he was entering, and struck him so violently
that he began to bleed. At the same moment he cried out, "I beg your
pardon, Monsieur, I did not think you were so near, and I ran to open you
Madame and Madame de Chaumont ran in great alarm to Monsieur, and covered
his face with their handkerchiefs, so that the Comte de Guiche had time
to get out of the room, and escape by the staircase. Monsieur saw some
one run away, but he thought it was Launois, who was escaping through
fear. He never learnt the truth.
What convinces me of the late Madame's innocence is that, after having
received the last sacraments, she begged pardon of Monsieur for all
disquiets she had occasioned, and said that she hoped to reach heaven
because she had committed no crime against her husband.
I think M. de Monmouth was much worse than the Comte de Guiche; because,
although a bastard, he was the son of Madame's own brother; and this
incest doubled the crime. Madame de Thiange, sister of Madame de
Montespan, conducted the intrigue between the Duke of Monmouth and
It is said here that Madame was not a beauty, but that she had so
graceful a manner as to make all she did very agreeable. She never
forgave. She would have the Chevalier de Lorraine dismissed; he was so,
but he was amply revenged of her. He sent the poison by which she was
destroyed from Italy by a nobleman of Provence, named Morel: this man was
afterwards given to me as chief maitre d'hotel, and after he had
sufficiently robbed me they made him sell his place at a high price.
This Morel was very clever, but he was a man totally void of moral or
religious principle; he confessed to me that he did not believe in
anything. At the point of death he would not hear talk of God. He said,
speaking of himself, "Let this carcass alone, it is now good for
nothing." He would steal, lie and swear; he was an atheist and.....
It is too true that the late Madame was poisoned, but without the
knowledge of Monsieur. While the villains were arranging the plan of
poisoning the poor lady, they deliberated whether they should acquaint
Monsieur with it or not. The Chevalier de Lorraine said "No, don't tell
him, for he cannot hold his tongue. If he does not tell it the first
year he may have us hanged ten years afterwards;" and it is well known
that the wretches said, "Let us not tell Monsieur, for he would tell the
King, who would certainly hang us all." They therefore made Monsieur
believe that Madame had taken poison in Holland, which did not act until
she arrived here.
[It is said that the King sent for the maitre d'hotel, and that,
being satisfied that Monsieur had not been a party to the crime, he
said, "Then I am relieved; you may retire." The Memoirs of the day
state also that the King employed the Chevalier de Lorraine to
persuade Monsieur to obey his brother's wishes.]
It appears, therefore, that the wicked Gourdon took no part in this
affair; but she certainly accused Madame to Monsieur, and calumniated and
disparaged her to everybody.
It was not Madame's endive-water that D'Effial had poisoned; that report
must have been a mere invention, for other persons might have tasted it
had Madame alone drank from her own glass. A valet de chambre who was
with Madame, and who afterwards was in my service (he is dead now), told
me that in the morning, while Monsieur and Madame were at Mass, D'Effial
went to the sideboard and, taking the Queen's cup, rubbed the inside of
it with a paper. The valet said to him, "Monsieur, what do you do in
this room, and why do you touch Madame's cup?" He answered, "I am dying
with thirst; I wanted something to drink, and the cup being dirty, I was
wiping it with some paper." In the afternoon Madame asked for some
endive-water; but no sooner had she swallowed it than she exclaimed she
was poisoned. The persons present drank some of the same water, but not
the same that was in the cup, for which reason they were not
inconvenienced by it. It was found necessary to carry Madame to bed.
She grew worse, and at two o'clock in the morning she died in great pain.
When the cup was sought for it had disappeared, and was not found until
long after. It seems it had been necessary to pass it through the fire
before it could be cleaned.
A report prevailed at St. Cloud for several years that the ghost of the
late Madame appeared near a fountain where she had been accustomed to sit
during the great heats, for it was a very cool spot. One evening a
servant of the Marquis de Clerambault, having gone thither to draw water
from the fountain, saw something white sitting there without a head. The
phantom immediately arose to double its height. The poor servant fled in
great terror, and said when he entered the house that he had seen Madame.
He fell sick and died. Then the captain of the Chateau, thinking there
was something hidden beneath this affair, went to the fountain some days
afterwards, and, seeing the phantom, he threatened it with a sound
drubbing if it did not declare what it was.
The phantom immediately said, "Ah, M. de Lastera, do me no harm; I am
poor old Philipinette."
This was an old woman in the village, seventy-seven years old, who had
lost her teeth, had blear eyes, a great mouth and large nose; in short,
was a very hideous figure. They were going to take her to prison, but I
interceded for her. When she came to thank me I asked her what fancy it
was that had induced her to go about playing the ghost instead of
She laughed and said, "I cannot much repent what I have done. At my time
of life one sleeps little; but one wants something to amuse one's mind.
In all the sports of my youth nothing diverted me so much as to play the
ghost. I was very sure that if I could not frighten folks with my white
dress I could do so with my ugly face. The cowards made so many grimaces
when they saw it that I was ready to die with laughing. This nightly
amusement repaid me for the trouble of carrying a pannier by day."
If the late Madame was better treated than I was it was for the purpose
of pleasing the King of England, who was very fond of his sister.
Madame de La Fayette, who has written the life of the late Madame, was
her intimate friend; but she was still more intimately the friend of M.
de La Rochefoucauld, who remained with her to the day of his death. It
is said that these two friends wrote together the romance of the
Princesse de Cloves.
THE DUC DE BERRI.
It is not surprising that the manners of the Duc de Berri were not very
elegant, since he was educated by Madame de Maintenon and the Dauphine as
a valet de chambre. He was obliged to wait upon the old woman at table,
and at all other times upon the Dauphine's ladies, with whom he was by
day and night. They made a mere servant of him, and used to talk to him
in a tone of very improper familiarity, saying, "Berri, go and fetch me
my work; bring me that table; give me my scissors."
Their manner of behaving to him was perfectly shameful. This had the
effect of degrading his disposition, and of giving him base propensities;
so that it is not surprising he should have been violently in love with
an ugly femme de chambre. His good father was naturally of rather a
But for that old Maintenon, the Duc de Berri would have been humpbacked,
like the rest who had been made to carry iron crosses.
The Duc de Berri's character seemed to undergo a total change; it is said
to be the ordinary lot of the children in Paris that, if they display any
sense in their youth, they become stupid as they grow older.
It was in compliance with the King's will that he married. At first he
was passionately fond of his wife; but at the end of three months he fell
in love with a little, ugly, black femme de chambre. The Duchess, who
had sufficient penetration, was not slow in discovering this, and told
her husband immediately that, if he continued to live upon good terms
with her, as he had done at first, she would say nothing about it, and
act as if she were not acquainted with it; but if he behaved ill, she
would tell the whole affair to the King, and have the femme de chambre
sent away, so that he should never hear of her again. By this threat she
held the Duke, who was a very simple man, so completely in check, that he
lived very well with her up to his death, leaving her to do as she
pleased, and dying himself as fond as ever of the femme de chambre. A
year before his death he had her married, but upon condition that the
husband should not exercise his marital rights. He left her pregnant as
well as his wife, both of whom lay-in after his decease. Madame de
Berri, who was not jealous, retained this woman, and took care of her and
The Duke abridged his life by his extreme intemperance in eating and
drinking. He had concealed, besides, that in falling from his horse he
had burst a blood-vessel. He threatened to dismiss any of his servants
who should say that he had lost blood. A number of plates were found in
the ruelle of his bed after his death. When he disclosed the accident it
was too late to remedy it. As far as could be judged his illness
proceeded from gluttony, in consequence of which emetics were so
frequently administered to him that they hastened his death.
He himself said to his confessor, the Pere de la Rue, "Ah, father, I am
myself the cause of my death!"
He repented of it, but not until too late.
THE DUCHESSE DE BERRI.
My son loves his eldest daughter better than all the rest of his
children, because he has had the care of her since she was seven years
old. She was at that time seized with an illness which the physicians
did not know how to cure. My son resolved to treat her in his own way.
He succeeded in restoring her to health, and from that moment his love
seemed to increase with her years. She was very badly educated, having
been always left with femmes de chambre. She is not very capricious, but
she is haughty and absolute in all her wishes.
[Her pride led her into all sorts of follies. She once went through
Paris preceded by trumpets and drama; and on another occasion she
appeared at the theatre under a canopy. She received the Venetian
Ambassador sitting in a chair elevated upon a sort of a platform.
This haughtiness, however, did not prevent her from keeping very bad
company, and she would sometimes lay aside her singularities and
break up her orgies to pass some holy days at the Carmelites.]
From the age of eight years she has had entirely her own way, so that it
is not surprising she should be like a headstrong horse. If she had been
well brought up, she would have been a worthy character, for she has very
good sense and a good natural disposition, and is not at all like her
mother, to whom, although she was very severely treated, she always did
her duty. During her mother's last illness, she watched her like a hired
nurse. If Madame de Berri had been surrounded by honest people, who
thought more of her honour than of their own interest, she would have
been a very admirable person. She had excellent feelings; but as that
old woman (Maintenon) once said, "bad company spoils good manners." To
be pleasing she had only to speak, for she possessed natural eloquence,
and could express herself very well.
Her complexion is very florid, for which she often lets blood, but
without effect; she uses a great quantity of paint, I believe for the
purpose of hiding the marks of the small-pox. She cannot dance, and
hates it; but she is well-grounded in music. Her voice is neither strong
nor agreeable, and yet she sings very correctly. She takes as much
diversion as possible; one day she hunts, another day she goes out in a
carriage, on a third she will go to a fair; at other times she frequents
the rope-dancers, the plays, and the operas, and she goes everywhere
'en echarpe', and without stays. I often rally her, and say that she
fancies she is fond of the chase, but in fact she only likes changing her
place. She cares little about the result of the chase, but she likes
boar-hunting better than stag-hunting, because the former furnishes her
table with black puddings and boars' heads.
I do not reckon the Duchesse de Berri among my grandchildren. She is
separated from me, we live like strangers to each other, she does not
disturb herself about me, nor I about her. (7th January, 1716.)
Madame de Maintenon was so dreadfully afraid lest the King should take a
fancy to the Duchesse de Berri while the Dauphine was expected, that she
did her all sorts of ill offices. After the Dauphine's death she
repaired the wrong; but then, to tell the truth, the King's inclination
was not so strong.
If the Duchesse de Berri was not my daughter-in-law, I should have no
reason to be dissatisfied with her; she behaves politely to me, which is
all that I can say. (25th Sept., 1716.)
She often laughs at her own figure and shape. She has certainly good
sense, and is not very punctilious. Her flesh is firm and healthy, her
cheeks are as hard as stone. I should be ungrateful not to love her, for
she does all sorts of civil things towards me, and displays so great a
regard for me that I am often quite amazed at it. (12th April, 1718.)
She is magnificent in her expenditure; to be sure she can afford to be
so, for her income amounts to 600,000 livres. Amboise was her jointure,
but she preferred Meudon.
She fell sick on the 28th March, 1719. I went to see her last Sunday,
the 23rd May, and found her in a sad state, suffering from pains in her
toes and the soles of her feet until the tears came into her eyes. I
went away because I saw that she refrained from crying out on my account.
I thought she was in a bad way. A consultation was held by her three
physicians, the result of which was that they determined to bleed her in
the feet. They had some difficulty in persuading her to submit to it,
because the pain in her feet was so great that she uttered the most
piercing screams if the bedclothes only rubbed against them. The
bleeding, however, succeeded, and she was in some degree relieved. It
was the gout in both feet.
The feet are now covered with swellings filled with water, which cause
her as much pain as if they were ulcers; she suffers day and night.
Whatever they may say, there has been no other swelling of the feet since
those blisters appeared. (13th June.)
The swelling has now entirely disappeared, but the pain is greater than
before. All the toes are covered with transparent blisters; she cries
out so that she may be heard three rooms off. The doctors now confess
they do not know what the disorder is. (20th June.) The King's surgeon
says it is rheumatic gout. (11th July.) I believe that frequent and
excessive bathing and gluttony have undermined her health. She has two
fits of fever daily, and the disease does not abate. She is not
impatient nor peevish; the emetic given to her the day before yesterday
causes her much pain; it seems that from time to time rheumatic pains
have affected her shoulders without her taking much notice of them. From
being very fat, as she was, she has become thin and meagre. Yesterday
she confessed, and received the communion. (18th July.) She was bled
thrice before she took the emetic. (Tuesday, 18th July.) She received
the last Sacrament with a firmness which deeply affected her attendants.
Between two and three o'clock this night (19th July) she died. Her end
was a very easy one; they say she died as if she had gone to sleep. My
son remained with her until she lost all consciousness, which was about
an hour before her death. She was his favourite daughter. The poor
Duchesse de Berri was as much the cause of her own death as if she had
blown her brains out, for she secretly ate melons, figs and milk; she
herself confessed, and her doctor told me, that she had closed her room
to him and to the other medical attendants for a fortnight that she might
indulge in this way. Immediately after the storm she began to die.
Yesterday evening she said to me: "Oh, Madame! that clap of thunder has
done me great harm;" and it was evident that it had made her worse.
My son has not been able to sleep. The poor Duchesse de Berri could not
have been saved; her brain was filled with water; she had an ulcer in the
stomach and another in the groin; her liver was affected, and her spleen
full of disease. She was taken by night to St. Denis, whither all her
household accompanied her corse. They were so much embarrassed about her
funeral oration that it was resolved ultimately not to pronounce one.
With all her wealth she has left my son 400,000 livres of debt to pay.
This poor Princess was horribly robbed and pillaged. You may imagine
what a race these favourites are; Mouchi, who enjoyed the greatest
favour, did not grieve for her mistress a single moment; she was playing
the flute at her window on the very day that the Princess was borne to
St. Denis, and went to a large dinner party in Paris, where she ate and
drank as if nothing had happened, at the same time talking in so
impertinent a manner as disgusted all the guests. My son desired her and
her husband to quit Paris.
My son's affliction is so much the greater since he perceives that,
if he had been less complying with his beloved daughter, and if he had
exercised somewhat more of a parent's authority, she would have been
alive and well at this time.
That Mouchi and her lover Riom have been playing fine tricks; they had
duplicate keys, and left the poor Duchess without a sou. I cannot
conceive what there is to love in this Riom; he has neither face nor
figure; he looks, with his green-and-yellow complexion, like a water
fiend; his mouth, nose and eyes are like those of a Chinese. He is more
like a baboon than a Gascon, which he is. He is a very dull person,
without the least pretensions to wit; he has a large head, which is sunk
between a pair of very broad shoulders, and his appearance is that of a
low-minded person; in short, he is a very ugly rogue.
And yet the toad does not come of bad blood; he is related to some of
the best families. The Duc de Lauzun is his uncle, and Biron his nephew.
He is, nevertheless, unworthy of the honour which was conferred on him;
for he was only a captain in the King's Guard. The women all ran after
him; but, for my part, I find him extremely disagreeable; he has an
unhealthy air and looks like one of the Indian figures upon a screen.
He was not here when Madame de Berri died, but was with the army, in the
regiment which had been bought for him. When the news of the Duchess's
death reached him the Prince de Conti went to seek Riom, and sang a
ridiculous song, my son was a little vexed at this, but he did not take
any notice of it.
There can be no doubt that the Duchess was secretly married to Riom; this
has consoled me in some degree for her loss. I had heard it said before,
and I made a representation upon the subject to my granddaughter.
She laughed, and replied: "Ah, Madame, I thought I had the honour of
being so well known to you that you could not believe me guilty of so
great a folly; I who am so much blamed for my pride."
This answer lulled my suspicions, and I no longer believed the story.
The father and mother would never have consented to this marriage; and
even if they had sanctioned such an impertinence I never would!
[The Duchess, with her usual violence, teased her father to have her
marriage made public; this was also Riom's most ardent desire, who
had married her solely from ambitious motives. The Regent had
despatched Riom to the army for the purpose of gaining time. One
daughter was the result of the connection between Riom and the
Duchesse de Berri, who was afterwards sent into a convent at
The toad had made the Princess believe that he was a Prince of the House
of Aragon, and that the King of Spain unjustly withheld from him his
kingdom; but that if she would marry him he could sue for his claim
through the treaties of peace. Mouchi used to talk about this to the
Duchess from morning to night; and it was for this reason that she was so
greatly in favour.
That Mouchi is the granddaughter of Monsieur's late surgeon. Her mother,
La Forcade, had been appointed by my son the gouvernante of his daughter
and son, and thus the young Forcade was brought up with the Duchesse de
Berri, who married her to Monsieur Mouchi, Master of the Wardrobe to the
Duke, and gave her a large marriage-portion. While the King lived the
Princess could not visit her much; and it was not until after his death
that she became the favourite, and was appointed by the Duchess second
MADEMOISELLE D'ORLEANS, LOUISE-ADELAIDE DE CHARTRES.
Mademoiselle de Chartres, Madame d'Orleans' second daughter, is well
made, and is the handsomest of my granddaughters. She has a fine skin, a
superb complexion, very white teeth, good eyes, and a faultless shape,
but she stammers a little; her hands are extremely delicate, the red and
white are beautifully and naturally mingled in her skin. I never saw
finer teeth; they are like a row of pearls; and her gums are no less
beautiful. A Prince of Auhalt who is here is very much in love with her;
but the good gentleman is ugly enough, so that there is no danger. She
dances well, and sings better; reads music at sight, and understands the
accompaniment perfectly; and she sings without any grimace. She persists
in her project of becoming a nun; but I think she would be better in the
world, and do all in my power to change her determination: it seems,
however, to be a folly which there is no eradicating. Her tastes are all
masculine; she loves dogs, horses, and riding; all day long she is
playing with gunpowder, making fusees and other artificial fireworks.
She has a pair of pistols, which she is incessantly firing; she fears
nothing in the world, and likes nothing which women in general like; she
cares little about her person, and for this reason I think she will make
a good nun.
She does not become a nun through jealousy of her sister, but from the
fear of being tormented by her mother and sister, whom she loves very
much, and in this she is right. She and her sister are not fond of their
mother's favourites, and cannot endure to flatter them. They have no
very reverent notions, either, of their mother's brother, and this is the
cause of dissensions. I never saw my granddaughter in better spirits
than on Sunday last; she was with her sister, on horseback, laughing, and
apparently in great glee. At eight o'clock in the evening her mother
arrived; we played until supper; I thought we were afterwards going to
play again, but Madame d'Orleans begged me to go into the cabinet with
her and Mademoiselle d'Orleans; the child there fell on her knees, and
begged my permission, and her mother's, to go to Chelles to perform her
devotions. I said she might do that anywhere, that the place mattered
not, but that all depended upon her own heart, and the preparation which
she made. She, however, persisted in her desire to go to Chelles. I
said to her mother:
"You must decide whether your daughter shall go to Chelles or not."
She replied, "We cannot hinder her performing her devotions."
[In the Memoirs of the time it is said that Mademoiselle de
Chartres, being at the Opera with her mother, exclaimed, while
Caucherau was singing a very tender air," Ah! my dear Caucherau!"
and that her mother, thinking this rather too expressive, resolved
to send her to a convent.]
So yesterday morning at seven o'clock she set off in a coach; she
afterwards sent back the carriage, with a letter to her father, her
mother, and myself, declaring that she will never more quit that accursed
cloister. Her mother, who has a liking for convents, is not very deeply
afflicted; she looks upon it as a great blessing to be a nun, but, for my
part, I think it is one of the greatest misfortunes.
My son went yesterday to Chelles, and took with him the Cardinal de
Noailles, to try for the last time to bring his daughter away from the
convent. (20th July, 1718.)
My heart is full when I think that our poor Mademoiselle d'Orleans has
made the profession of her vows. I said to her all I could, in the hope
of diverting her from this diabolical project, but all has been useless.
(23rd August, 1718.) I should not have restrained my tears if I had been
present at the ceremony of her profession. My son dreaded it also. I
cannot tell for what reason Mademoiselle d'Orleans resolved to become a
nun. Mademoiselle de Valois wanted to do the same thing, but she could
not prevail upon her mother. In the convent they assume the names of
saints. My granddaughter has taken that of Sister Bathilde; she is of
the Benedictine order.
Madame d'Orleans has long wished her daughter to take this step, and it
was on her account that the former Abbess, Villars' sister, was prevailed
upon to quit the convent. He is in the interest of the Duc du Maine. I
do not see, however, that his sister has much to complain of, for they
gave her a pension of 12,000 livres until the first abbey should become
vacant. Madame d'Orleans is, however, vexed at the idea of Villars'
sister being obliged to yield to my son's daughter, which is,
nevertheless, as it should be.
Our Abbess is upon worse terms than ever with her mother. She complains
that the latter never comes but to scold her. She does not envy her
sister her marriage, for she finds herself very happy, and in this she
displays great good sense.
MADEMOISELLE DE VALOIS, CHARLOTTE-AGLAE, CONSORT OF THE PRINCE OF MODENA.
Mademoiselle de Valois is not, in my opinion, pretty, and yet
occasionally she does not look ugly. She has something like charms,
for her eyes, her colour and her skin are good. She has white teeth,
a large, ill-looking nose, and one prominent tooth, which when she laughs
has a bad effect. Her figure is drawn up, her head is sunk between her
shoulders, and what, in my opinion, is the worst part of her appearance,
is the ill grace with which she does everything. She walks like an old
woman of eighty. If she were a person not very anxious to please, I
should not be surprised at the negligence of her gait; but she likes to
be thought pretty. She is fond of dress, and yet she does not understand
that a good mien and graceful manners are the most becoming dress, and
that where these are wanting all the ornaments in the world are good for
nothing. She has a good deal of the Mortemart family in her, and is as
much like the Duchess of Sforza, the sister of Montespan, as if she were
her daughter; the falsehood of the Mortemarts displays itself in her
eyes. Madame d'Orleans would be the most indolent woman in the world but
for Madame de Valois, her daughter, who is worse than she. To me nothing
is more disgusting than a young person so indolent. She cares little for
me, or rather cannot bear me, and, for my part, I care as little for a
person so educated.
She is not upon good terms with her mother, because she wanted to marry
her to the Prince de Dombes, the Duc du Maine's eldest son. The mother
says now reproachfully to her daughter that, if she had married her
nephew, neither his father's nor his own misfortunes would have taken
place. She cannot bear to have her daughter in her sight, and has begged
me to keep her with me.
My son has agreed to give his daughter to the Prince of Modem, at which I
very sincerely rejoice. On the day before yesterday (28th November,
1719) she came hither with her mother to tell me that the courier had
arrived. Her eyes were swollen and red, and she looked very miserable.
The Duchess of Hanover tells me that the intended husband fell in love
with Mademoiselle de Valois at the mere sight of her portrait. I think
her rather pretty than agreeable. Her hawk nose spoils all, in my
opinion. Her legs are long, her body stout and short, and her gait
shows that she has not learnt to dance; in fact, she never would learn.
Still, if the interior was as good as the exterior, all might pass; but
she has as much of the father as of the mother in her, and this it is
that I dislike.
Our bride-elect is putting, as we say here, as good a face as she can
upon a bad bargain; although her language is gay her eyes are swollen,
and it is suspected that she has been weeping all night. The Grand
Prior, who is also General of the Galleys, will escort his sister into
Italy. The Grand Duchess of Tuscany says that she will not see
Mademoiselle de Valois nor speak to her, knowing very well what Italy is,
and believing that Mademoiselle de Valois will not be able to reconcile
herself to it. She is afraid that if her niece should ever return to
France they will say, "There is the second edition of the Grand Duchess;
"and that for every folly she may commit towards her father-in-law and
husband they will add, "Such are the instructions which her aunt, the
Grand Duchess, has given her." For this reason she said she would not go
to see her.
The present has come from Modena; it does not consist of many pieces;
there is a large jewel for the bride, with some very fine diamonds, in
the midst of which is the portrait of the Prince of Modena, but it is
badly executed. This present is to be given on the day of the marriage
and at the signature of the contract in the King's presence; this
ceremony will take place on the 11th (of February, 1720). The nuptial
benediction will be pronounced on Monday, and on Thursday she will set
off. I never in my life saw a bride more sorrowful; for the last three
days she has neither eaten nor drunk, and her eyes are filled with tears.
I have been the prophetess of evil, but I have prophesied too truly.
When our Princess of Modena told me that she wished to go to Chelles to
bid her sister farewell, I told her that the measles had been in the
convent a short time before, that the Abbess herself had been attacked by
this disease, which was contagious. She replied that she would seek it.
I said such things are more easily found than anything good; you run a
risk of your life, and I recommend you to take care. Notwithstanding my
advice, she went on Sunday morning to Chelles, and passed the whole of
the day with her sister. Soon afterwards she found herself unwell, and
was laid up with the measles. Her consolation is that this illness
retards her journey.
On the 12th of March (1720) my son brought his daughter to bid me
farewell. She could not articulate a word. She took my hands, kissed
and pressed them, and then clasped her own. My son was much affected
when he brought her. They thought at first of marrying her to the Prince
of Piedmont. Her father had given her some reason to hope for this
union, but he afterwards retracted.
[According to Duclos it was Madame herself who prevented this
marriage by writing to the Queen of Sicily that she was too much her
friend to make her so worthless a present as Mademoiselle de Valois.
Duclos adds that the Regent only laughed at this German blunder of
She would have preferred marrying the Duke or the Comte de Charolois,
because then she would have remained with her friends. Her father has
given her several jewels. The King's present is superb. It consists of
fourteen very large and fine diamonds, to each of which are fastened
round pearls of the first water, and together they form a necklace. The
Grand Duchess advised her niece well in telling her not to follow her
example, but to endeavour to please her husband and father-in-law.
[The same author (Duclos) says, on the contrary, that the Duchess
had given her niece the following advice: "My dear, do as I have
done. Have one or two children and try to get back to France; there
is nothing good for us out of that country."]
The Prince of Modena will repair to Genoa incognito, because the Republic
has declared that they will pay due honours to his bride as a Princess of
the blood, but not as Princess of Modena. They have already begun to
laugh here at the amusements of Modena. She has sent to her father from
Lyons an harangue which was addressed to her by a curate. In spite of
her father, she will visit the whole of Provence. She will go to Toulon,
La Ste. Beaume, and I know not what. I believe she wishes to see
everything or anything except her husband.
[She performed her journey so slowly that the Prince complained of
it, and the Regent was obliged to order his daughter to go directly
to the husband, who was expecting her.]
It may truly be said of this Princess that she has eaten her white bread
All goes well at Modena at present, but the too charming brother-in-law
is not permitted to be at the petite soupers of his sister. The husband,
it is said, is delighted with his wife; but she has told him that he must
not be too fond of her, for that is not the fashion in France, and would
seem ridiculous. This declaration has not, as might be guessed, given
very great satisfaction in this country.
The Grand Duchess says, in the time of the Queen-mother's regency, when
the Prince and his brother, the Prince de Conti, were taken to the
Bastille, they were asked what books they would have to amuse themselves
with? The Prince de Conti said he should like to have "The Imitation of
Jesus Christ;" and the Prince de Condo said he would rather like "The
Imitation of the Duc de Beaufort," who had then just left the Bastille.
"I think," added the Duchess, "that the Princess of Modena will soon be
inclined to ask for 'The Imitation of the Grand Duchess.'"
[The Princess of Modena did, in fact, go back to France, and
remained there for the rest of her life.]
Our Princess of Modena has found her husband handsomer and likes him
better than she thought she should; she has even become so fond of him,
that she has twice kissed his hands; a great condescension for a person
so proud as she is, and who fancies that, there is not her equal on the
The Duke of Modena is a very strange person in all matters. His son and
his son's wife have requested him to get rid of Salvatico, who has been
here in the quality of envoy. This silly person made on the journey a
declaration in form of his love for the Princess, and threatened her with
all sorts of misfortune if she did not accept his love. He began his
"Ah! ah! ah! Madame, ah! ah! ah! Madame."
The Princess interrupted him: "What do you mean with your ah's?"
He replied, "Ah! the Prince of Modena is under great obligations; I have
made him happy."
He had begun the same follies here, and was in the habit of entering the
Princess's chamber at all times, and he even had the impudence to be
jealous. The Princess complained of him to her husband, and he told his
father of it, begging him to send the rogue away; but the father was so
far from complying that he wanted to make Salvatico his major-domo. Upon
the whole, I think that Salvatico's love for our Princess of Modena is
fortunate for her; for, having learnt all that had passed here,
[Mademoiselle de Valois had an amorous intrigue with the Duc de
Richelieu; and it is said that she only consented to marry the
Prince of Modena upon condition that her father, the Regent, would
set her husband at liberty. Madame had intimated to the Duc de
Richelieu that, if he approached the places where her granddaughter
was with her, his life would be in great peril.]
he might have made inconvenient reports: he would, however, perhaps have
done it in vain, for the Prince would not have believed him. Salvatico
is quite crazy. He is the declared favourite of the Duke of Modena,
which verifies the German proverb, "Like will to like, as the devil said
to the collier."
The Prince and Princess are very fond of each other; but it is said they
join in ridiculing the old father (2nd August, 1720). The Princess goes
about all day from room to room, crying, "How tired I am, how tiresome
everything is here! "She, however, lives a little better with her
husband than at the beginning.
THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN OF THE REGENT, DUC D'ORLEANS.
My son has three illegitimate children, two boys and a girl; but only one
of them is legitimated, that is, his son by Mademoiselle de Seri, a lady
of noble family, and who was my Maid of Honour. The younger Margrave of
Anspach was also in love with her. This son is called the Chevalier
d'Orleans. The other, who is now (1716) about eighteen years old, is an
Abbe; he is the son of La Florence, a dancer at the Opera House. The
daughter is by Desmarets, the actress. My son says that the Chevalier
d'Orleans is more unquestionably his than any of the others; but, to tell
the truth, I think the Abbe has a stronger family likeness to my son than
the Chevalier, who is like none of them. I do not know where my son
found him; he is a good sort of person, but he has neither elegance nor
beauty. It is a great pity that the Abbe is illegitimate: he is well
made; his features are not bad; he has very good talents, and has studied
much.--[Duclos says that this 'eleve' of the Jesuits was, nevertheless,
the most zealous ignoramus that ever their school produced.]--He is a
good deal like the portraits of the late Monsieur in his youth, only that
he is bigger. When he stands near Mademoiselle de Valois it is easy to
see that they belong to the same father. My son purchased for the
Chevalier d'Orleans the office of General of the Galleys from the
Marechal de Tasse. He intends to make him a Knight of Malta, so that he
may live unmarried, for my son does not wish to have the illegitimate
branches of his family extended. The Chevalier does not want wit; but he
is a little satirical, a habit which he takes from his mother.
My son will not recognize the Abbe Saint-Albin, on account of the
irregular life which his mother, La Florence, has led. He fears being
laughed at for acknowledging children so different. The Abbe Dubois was
a chief cause, too, why my son would not acknowledge this son. It was
because the Abbe, aspiring to the Cardinal's hat, was jealous of every
one who might be a competitor with him. I love this Abbe Saint-Albin, in
the first place, because he is attached to me, and, in the second,
because he is really very clever; he has wit and sense, with none of the
mummery of priests. My son does not esteem him half so much as he
deserves, for he is one of the best persons in the world; he is pious and
virtuous, learned in every point, and not vain. It is in vain for my son
to deny him; any one may see of what race he comes, and I am sorry that
he is not legitimated. My son is much more fond of Seri's Son.
The poor Abbe de Saint-Albin is grieved to death at not being
acknowledged; while Fortune smiles upon his elder brother, he is
forgotten, despised, and has no rank; he seeks only to be legitimated.
I console him as well as I can; but why should I tease my son about the
[The Abbe de Saint-Albin was appointed Bishop of Laon, and, after
Dubois' death, Archbishop of Cambrai. When he wished to become a
member of the Parliament he could not give the names either of his
father or mother; he had been baptized in the name of Cauche, the
Regent's valet de chambre and purveyor.]
It would only put him in the way of greater inconveniences, for, as he
has also several children by Parabere, she would be no less desirous that
he should legitimate hers. This consideration ties my tongue.
The daughter of the actress Desmarets is somewhat like her mother, but
she is like no one else. She was educated in a convent at Saint Denis,
but had no liking for a nun's life. When my son had her first brought to
him she did not know who she was. When my son told her he was her
father, she was transported with joy, fancying that she was the daughter
of Seri and sister to the Chevalier; she thought, too, that she would be
legitimated immediately. When my son told her that could not be done,
and that she was Desmarets' daughter, she wept excessively. Her mother
had never been permitted to see her in the convent; the nuns would not
have allowed it, and her presence would have been injurious to the child.
From the time she was born, her mother had not seen her until the present
year (1719), when she saw her in a box at the theatre, and wept for joy.
My son married this girl to the Marquis de Segur.
An actress at the Opera House, called Mdlle. d'Usg, who is since dead,
was in great favour with my son, but that did not last long. At her
death it appeared that, although she had had several children, neither
she nor her mother nor her grandmother had ever been married.
THE CHEVALIER DE LORRAINE.
The Chevalier de Lorraine looked very ill, but it was in consequence of
his excessive debauchery, for he had once been a handsome man. He had a
well-made person, and if the interior had answered to the exterior I
should have had nothing to say against him. He was, however, a very bad
man, and his friends were no better than he. Three or four years before
my husband's death, and for his satisfaction, I was reconciled with the
Chevalier, and from that time he did me no mischief. He was always
before so much afraid of being sent away that he used to tell Monsieur he
ought to know what I was saying and doing, that he might be apprised of
any attempt that should be made against the Chevalier or his creatures.
He died so poor that his friends were obliged to bury him; yet he had
100,000 crowns of revenue, but he was so bad a manager that his people
always robbed him. Provided they would supply him when he wanted them
with a thousand pistoles for his pleasures or his play, he let them
dispose of his property as they thought fit. That Grancey drew large
sums from him. He met with a shocking death. He was standing near
Madame de Mare, Grancey's sister, and telling her that he had been
sitting up at some of his extravagant pleasures all night, and was
uttering the most horrible expressions, when suddenly he was stricken
with apoplexy, lost the power of speech, and shortly afterwards expired.
[He died suddenly in his own house, playing at ombre, as many of his
family had done, and was regretted by no person except Mdlle. de
Lillebonne, to whom he was believed to have been privately married.
--Note to Dangeau's Journal. This man, who was suspected of having
poisoned the King's sister-in-law, was nevertheless in possession of
four abbeys, the revenues of which defrayed the expenses of his
PHILIP V., KING OF SPAIN.
Louis XIV. wept much when his grandson set out for Spain. I could not
help weeping, too. The King accompanied him as far as Sceaux. The tears
and lamentations in the drawing-room were irresistible. The Dauphin was
also deeply affected.
The King of Spain is very hunchbacked, and is not in other respects well
made; but he is bigger than his brothers. He has the best mien, good
features, and fine hair. What is somewhat singular, although his hair is
very light, his eyes are quite black; his complexion is clear red and
white; he has an Austrian mouth; his voice is deep, and he is singularly
slow in speaking. He is a good and peaceable sort of a person, but a
little obstinate when he takes it in his head. He loves his wife above
all things, leaves all affairs to her, and never interferes in anything.
He is very pious, and believes he should be damned if he committed any
matrimonial infidelity. But for his devotion he would be a libertine,
for he is addicted to women, and it is for this reason he is so fond of
his wife. He has a very humble opinion of his own merit. He is very
easily led, and for this reason the Queen will not lose sight of him. He
receives as current truths whatever is told him by persons to whom he is
accustomed, and never thinks of doubting. The good gentleman ought to be
surrounded by competent persons, for his own wit would not carry him far;
but he is of a good disposition, and is one of the quietest men in the
world. He is a little melancholy, and there is nothing in Spain to make
He must know people before he will speak to them at all. If you desire
him to talk you must tease him and rally him a little, or he will not
open his mouth. I have seen Monsieur very impatient at his talking to
me while he could not get a word from him. Monsieur did not take the
trouble to talk to him before he was a King, and then he wished him to
speak afterwards; that did not suit the King. He was not the same with
me. In the apartment, at table, or at the play, he used to sit beside
me. He was very fond of hearing tales, and I used to tell them to him
for whole evenings: this made him well accustomed to me, and he had
always something to ask me. I have often laughed at the answer he made
me when I said to him, "Come, Monsieur, why do not you talk to your
uncle, who is quite distressed that you never speak to him."
"What shall I say to him?" he replied, "I scarcely know him."
It is quite true that the Queen of Spain was at first very fond of the
Princesse des Ursins, and that she grieved much when that Princess was
dismissed for the first time. The story that is told of the Confessor is
also very true; only one circumstance is wanting in it, that is, that the
Duc de Grammont, then Ambassador, played the part of the Confessor, and
it was for this reason he was recalled.
The Queen had one certain means of making the King do whatever she
wished. The good gentleman was exceedingly fond of her, and this
fondness she turned to good account. She had a small truckle-bed in her
room, and when the King would not comply with any of her requests she
used to make him sleep in this bed; but when she was pleased with him he
was admitted to her own bed; which was the very summit of happiness to
the poor King. After the Princesse des Ursins had departed, the King
recalled the Confessor from Rome, and kept him near his own person
The King of Spain can never forgive, and Madame des Ursins has told him
so many lies to my son's disadvantage that the King can never, while he
lives, be reconciled to him.
Rebenac's--[Francois de Feuquieres, Called the Comte de Rebenac,
Extraordinary Ambassador to Spain.]--passion for the late Queen of Spain
was of no disadvantage to her; she only laughed at it, and did not care
for him. It was the Comte de Mansfeld, the man with the pointed nose,
who poisoned her. He bought over two of her French femmes de chambre to
give her poison in raw oysters; and they afterwards withheld from her the
antidote which had been entrusted to their care.
The Queen of Spain, daughter of the first Madame,--[Henrietta of
England.]--died in precisely the same manner as she did, and at the same
age, but in a much more painful manner, for the violence of the poison
was such as to make her nails fall off.
THE DUCHESSE LOUISE-FRANCISQUE, CONSORT OF LOUIS III., DUC DE BOURBON.
I knew a German gentleman who has now been dead a long time (1718), who
has sworn to me positively that the Duchess is not the daughter of the
King, but of Marechal de Noailles. He noted the time at which he saw the
Marshal go into Montespan's apartment, and it was precisely nine months
from that time that the Duchess came into the world. This German, whose
name was Bettendorf, was a brigadier in the Body Guard; and he was on
guard at Montespan's when the captain of the first company paid this
visit to the King's mistress.
The Duchess is not prettier than her daughters, but she has more grace;
her manners are more fascinating and agreeable; her wit shines in her
eyes, but there is some malignity in them also. I always say she is like
a very pretty cat, which, while you play with it, lets you feel it has
claws. No person has a better carriage of the head. It is impossible to
dance better than the Duchess and her daughters can; but the mother
dances the best. I do not know how it is, but even her lameness is
becoming to her. The Duchess has the talent of saying things in so
pleasant a manner that one cannot help laughing. She is very amusing and
uncommonly good company; her notions are so very comical. When she
wishes to make herself agreeable to any one she is very insinuating, and
can take all shapes; if she were not also treacherous, one might say
truly that nobody is more amiable than the Duchess; she understands so
well how to accommodate herself to people's peculiar habits that one
would believe she takes a real interest in them; but there is nothing
certain about her. Although her sense is good, her heart is not.
Notwithstanding her ambition, she seems at first as if she thought only
of amusing and diverting herself and others; and she can feign so
skilfully that one would think she had been very agreeably entertained in
the society of persons, whom immediately upon her return home she will
ridicule in all possible ways.
La Mailly complained to her aunt, old Maintenon, that her husband was in
love with the Duchess; but this husband, having afterwards been
captivated by an actress named Bancour, gave up to her all the Duchess's
letters, for which he was an impertinent rascal. The Duchess wrote a
song upon Mailly, in which she reproached her, notwithstanding her airs
of prudery, with an infidelity with Villeroi, a sergeant of the Guard.
In the Duchess's house malice passes for wit, and therefore they are
under no restraint. The three sisters--the Duchess, the Princesse de
Conti, and Madame d'Orleans--behave to each other as if they were not
The Princess is a very virtuous person, and is much displeased at her
daughter-in-law's manner of life, for Lasso is with her by day and by
night; at the play, at the Opera, in visits, everywhere Lasso is seen
THE YOUNGER DUCHESS.
The Duke's wife is not an ill-looking person: she has good eyes, and
would be very well if she had not a, habit of stretching and poking out
her neck. Her shape is horrible; she is quite crooked; her back is
curved into the form of an S. I observed her one day, through curiosity,
when the Dauphine was helping her to dress.
She is a wicked devil; treacherous in every way, and of a very dangerous
temper. Upon the whole, she is not good for much. Her falsehood was the
means of preventing the Duke from marrying one of my granddaughters.
Being the intimate friend of Madame de Berri, who was very desirous that
one of her sisters should marry the Duke and the other the Prince de
Conti, she promised to bring about the marriage, provided Madame de Berri
would say nothing of it to the King or to me. After having imposed this
condition, she told the King that Madame de Berri and my son were
planning a marriage without his sanction; in order to punish them she
begged the King to marry the Duke to herself, which was actually done.
Thanks to her good sense, she lives upon tolerable terms with her
husband, although he has not much affection for her. They follow each
their own inclinations; they are not at all jealous of each other, and it
is said they have separate beds.
She causes a great many troubles and embarrassments to her relation, the
young Princesse de Conti, and perfectly understands tormenting folks.
The young Duchess died yesterday evening (22nd March, 1720). The Duke's
joy at the death of his wife will be greatly diminished when he learns
that she has bequeathed to her sister, Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon,
all her property; and as the husband and wife lived according to the
custom of Paris, 'en communaute', the Duke will be obliged to refund the
half of all he gained by Law's bank.
After the death of the younger Duchess, the Princesse de Conti, her
mother, wrote to a Chevalier named Du Challar, who was the lover of the
deceased, to beg him to come and see her, as he was the only object left
connected with her daughter, and assuring him that he might reckon upon
her services in everything that depended upon her. It was the younger
Duchess who was so fond of Lasse, and who had been so familiar with him
at a masked ball.
I recognized only two good qualities in her: her respect and affection
for her grandmother, the Princess, and the skill with which she concealed
her faults. Beside this, she was good for nothing, in whatever way her
character is regarded. That she was treacherous is quite certain; and
she shortened her life by her improper conduct. She neither loved nor
hated her husband, and they lived together more like brother and sister
than husband and wife.
The Elector of Bavaria, during his stay at Paris, instead of visiting his
nephews and nieces, passed all his time, by day and by night, with the
Duchess and her daughters. As to me, he fled me as he would fly the
plague, and never spoke to me but in the company of M. de Torcy. The
Duchess had three of the handsomest daughters in the world: the one
called Mademoiselle de Clermont is extremely beautiful; but I think her
sister, the Princesse de Conti, more amiable. The Duchess can drink very
copiously without being affected; her daughters would fain imitate her,
but they soon get tipsy, and cannot control themselves as their mother
LOUIS III., DUC DE BOURBON.
It is said that the Duke has solid parts; he does everything with a
certain nobility; he has a good person, but the loss of that eye, which
the Duc de Berri struck out, disfigures him much. He is certainly very
politic, and this quality he has from his mother. He is polite and well-
bred; his mind is not very comprehensive, and he has been badly
instructed. They say he is unfit for business for three reasons:
first, on account of his ignorance; secondly, for his want of
application; and, thirdly, for his impatience. I can see that in
examining him narrowly one would find many defects in him; but he has
also many praiseworthy qualities, and he possesses many friends. He has
a greatness and nobility of soul, and a good deportment.
The Prince is in love with Madame de Polignac; but she is fond of the
Duke, who cannot yet forget Madame de Nesle, although she has dismissed
him to make room for that great calf, the Prince of Soubise. The latter
person is reported to have said, "Why does the Duke complain? Have I not
consented to share Madame de Nesle's favours with him whenever he
Such is the delicacy which prevails here in affairs of love.
The Duke is very passionate. When Madame de Nesle dismissed him he
almost died of vexation; he looked as if he was about to give up the
ghost, and for six months he did not know what to do.
The Marquis de Villequier, the Duc d'Aumont's son, one day visited the
Marquise de Nesle. She took it into her head to ask him if he was very
fond of his wife. Villequier replied, "I am not in love with her; I see
her very little; our humours differ greatly. She is serious, and for my
part I like pleasure and gaiety. I feel for her a friendship founded on
esteem, for she is one of the most virtuous women in France."
Madame de Nesle, of whom no man could say so much, took this for an
insult, and complained of it to the Duke, who promised to avenge her.
Some days afterwards he invited young Villequier to dine with him at the
Marquis de Nesle's; there were, besides Madame de Nesle, the Marquis de
Gevres, Madame de Coligny, and others. During dinner the Duke began
"A great many men fancy they are sure of the fidelity of their wives, but
it is a mistake. I thought to protect myself from this common fate by
marrying a monster, but it served me nought; for a villain named Du
Challar, who was more ugly than I am, played me false. As to the Marquis
de Gevres, as he will never marry * * * , he will be exempt; but you,
Monsieur de Nesle, you are so and so." Nesle, who did not believe it,
although it was very true, only laughed. Then addressing himself to
Villequier, he said, "And you, Villequier, don't you think you are so?"
He was silent. The Duke continued, "Yes, you are befooled by the
Chevalier de Pesay."
Villequier blushed, but at last said, "I confess that up to this moment I
had no reason to believe it; but since you put me into such good company
I have no right to complain."
I do not think Madame de Nesle was well revenged.
I remember that the Duke, who was terribly ill-made, said one day to the
late Monsieur, who was a straight, well-formed person, that a mask had
taken him for Monsieur. The latter, somewhat mortified at such a
mistake, replied, "I lay that, with all other wrongs done to me, at the
foot of the Cross."
Ever since the Duchess espoused the party of her son against her brother
and his nephews, the Duke has displayed a great fondness for his mother,
about whom he never disturbed himself before.
Mdlle. de Polignac made the Duke believe she was very fond of him. He
entertained great suspicions of her, and had her watched, and learnt that
she was carrying on a secret intrigue with the Chevalier of Bavaria. He
reproached her with it, and she denied the accusation. The Duke
cautioned her not to think that she could deceive him. She protested
that he had been imposed upon. As soon, however, as she had quitted him
she went to the Chevalier's house; and the Duke, who had her dogged, knew
whither she had gone. The next day he appointed her to visit him; she
went directly to the bedroom, believing that his suspicions were entirely
lulled. The Duke then opened the door wide, so that she might be seen
from the cabinet, which was full of men; and calling the Chevalier of
Bavaria, he said to him: "Here, Sir Chevalier, come and see your
mistress, who will now have no occasion to go so far to find you."
Although the Duke and the Prince de Conti are brothers-in-law in two
ways, they cannot bear each other.
The Duke is at this moment (1718) very strongly attached to Madame de
Prie. She has already received a good beating on his account from her
husband, but this does not deter her. She is said to have a good deal of
sense; she entirely governs the Duke, who is solely occupied with making
her unfaithful to M. de Prie. She has consoled the Duke for his
dismissal from Madame de Nesle; but it is said that she is unfaithful to
him, and that she has two other lovers. One is the Prince of Carignan,
and the other Lior, the King's first maitre d'hotel, which latter is the
handsomest of the three.
It is impossible that the Duke can now inspire any woman with affection
for him. He is tall, thin as a lath; his legs are like those of a crane;
his body is bent and short, and he has no calves to his legs; his eyes
are so red that it is impossible to distinguish the bad eye from the good
one; his cheeks are hollow; his chin so long that one would not suppose
it belonged to the face; his lips uncommonly large: in short, I hardly
ever saw a man before so ugly. It is said that the inconstancy of his
mistress, Madame de Prie, afflicts him profoundly.
The Marchioness was extremely beautiful, and her whole person was
very captivating. Possessing as many mental as personal charms, she
concealed beneath an apparent simplicity the most dangerous
treachery. Without the least conception of virtue, which, according
to her ideas, was a word void of sense, she affected innocence in
vice, was violent under an appearance of meekness, and libertine by
constitution. She deceived her lover with perfect impunity, who
would believe what she said even against the evidence of his own
eyes. I could mention several instances of this, if they were not
too indecent. It is, however, sufficient to say that she had one
day to persuade him that he was the cause of a libertinism of which
he was really the victim.--Memoires de Duclos, tome ii. It is well
known that, after the Duke assumed the Regency, upon the death of
the Regent, the Marchioness du Prie governed in his name; and that
she was exiled, and died two years afterwards of ennui and vexation.
The Princess of Modena takes nothing by the death of the Duchess; the
Duke has said that he never would have married that Princess, and that
now he will not marry at all.
In order that Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon may enjoy the millions
that belong to her of right, in consequence of her sister's death, it is
necessary first for her to receive them; but the Duke, it is reported, as
the good Duc de Crequi used to say, "Holds back as tight as the trigger
of the Cognac cross-bow;" and in fact he has not only refused to give up
to his sister what she should take under her sister's will, but he
disputes her right to the bank-notes which she had given to the Duchess
to take care of for her, when she herself was dangerously ill.
The Duke and his mother are said to have gained each two hundred and
The Duke, who is looked upon as Law's very good friend, has been ill-
treated by the people, who have passed all kinds of insults upon him,
calling him even a dog. His brother, the Marquis de Clermont, too, has
fared little better; for they cried after him at the Port Royal, "Go
along, dog! you are not much better than your brother." His tutor
alighted for the purpose of haranguing the mob; but they picked up some
stones, and he soon found it expedient to get into the carriage again,
and make off with all speed.
FRANCOIS-LOUIS, PRINCE DE CONTI.
The Prince de Conti, who died lately (in 1709), had good sense, courage,
and so many agreeable qualities as to make himself generally beloved.
But he had also some bad points in his character, for he was false, and
loved no person but himself.
It is said that he caused his own death by taking stimulating medicines,
which destroyed a constitution naturally feeble. There had been some
talk of making him King of Poland.--[In 1696, after the death of John
THE GREAT PRINCESSE DE CONTI, DAUGHTER OF LA VALLIERE.
This is of all the King's illegitimate daughters the one he most loves.
She is by far the most polite and well-bred, but she is now totally
absorbed by devotion.
THE PRINCESS PALATINE, MARIE-THERESE DE BOURBON, WIFE OF FRANCOIS-LOUIS,
PRINCE DE CONTI.
This Princess is the only one of the House of Conde who is good for
anything. I think she must have some German blood in her veins. She is
little, and somewhat on one side, but she is not hunchbacked. She has
fine eyes, like her father; with this exception, she has no pretensions
to beauty, but she is virtuous and pious. What she has suffered on
account of her husband has excited general compassion; he was as jealous
as a fiend, though without the slightest cause. She never knew where she
was to pass the night. When she had made arrangements to sleep at
Versailles, he would take her from Paris to Chantilly, where she supposed
she was going to stay; then she was obliged to set out for Versailles.
He tormented her incessantly in all possible ways, and he looked,
moreover, like a little ape. The late Queen had two paroquets, one of
which was the very picture of the Prince, while the other was as much
like the Marechal de Luxembourg as one drop of water is like another.
Notwithstanding all that the Princess has suffered, she daily regrets the
loss of her husband. I am often quite angry to see her bewailing her
widowhood instead of enjoying the repose which it affords her; she wishes
that her husband were alive again, even although he should torment her
again as much as before.
She was desirous that Mademoiselle de Conde should marry the late
Margrave; this lady was incomparably more handsome than her sister; but I
think he had a greater inclination for Mademoiselle de Vendome, because
she seemed to be more modest and quiet.
The Princess, who has been born and educated here, had not the same
dislike that I felt to her son's marrying an illegitimate child, and yet
she has repented it no less. She is exceedingly unhappy with respect to
her children. The Princesse de Conti, mother of the Prince de Conti, who
is rather virtuous than otherwise, is nevertheless a little simpleton,
and is something like the Comtesse Pimbeche Orbeche, for she is always
wishing to be engaged in lawsuits against her mother; who, on her part,
has used all possible means, but without success, to be reconciled to
her. On Thursday last (10th March, 1720) she lost her cause, and I am
very glad of it, for it was an unjust suit. The younger Princess wished
the affair to be referred to arbitration; but the son would have the
business carried through, and made his counsel accuse his mother of
falsehood. The advocate of the Princess replied as follows:
"The sincerity of the Princesse de Conti and of the Princess her daughter
are so well known that all the world can judge of them." This has amused
the whole palace.
LOUISE-ELIZABETH, PRINCESSE DE CONTI, CONSORT OF LOUIE-ARMAND DE CONTI.
She is a person full of charms, and a striking proof that grace is
preferable to beauty. When she chooses to make herself agreeable, it is
impossible to resist her. Her manners are most fascinating; she is full
of gentleness, never displaying the least ill-humour, and always saying
something kind and obliging. It is greatly to be regretted that she is
not in the society of more virtuous persons, for she is herself naturally
very good; but she is spoiled by bad company. She has an ugly fool for
her husband, who has been badly brought up; and the examples which are
constantly before her eyes are so pernicious that they have corrupted her
and made her careless of her reputation. Her amiable, unaffected manners
are highly delightful to foreigners. Among others, some Bavarians have
fallen in love with her, as well as the Prince Ragotzky; but she
disgusted him with her coquetry.
She does not love her husband, and cannot do so, no less on account of
his ugly person than for his bad temper. It is not only his face that is
hideous, but his whole person is frightful and deformed. She terrified
him by placing some muskets and swords near her bed, and assuring him
that if he came there again with his pistols charged, she would take the
gun and fire upon him, and if she missed, she would fall upon him with
the sword. Since this time he has left off carrying his pistols.
Her husband teased her, and made her weep so much that she has lost her
child, and her health is again injured.
LOUIE-ARMAND, PRINCE DE CONTI.
It cannot be denied that his whole appearance is extremely repulsive. He
is a horribly ill-made little man, and is always absent-minded, which
gives him a distracted air, as if he were really crazy. When it could be
the least expected, too, he will fall over his own walking-stick. The
folks in the palace were so much accustomed to this in the late King's
time, that they used always to say, when they heard anything fall,
"It's nothing; only the Prince de Conti tumbling down."
He has sense, but he has been brought up like a scullion boy; he has
strange whimsies, of which he is quite aware himself, but which he cannot
control. His wife is a charming woman, and is much to be pitied for
being in fear of her life from this madman, who often threatens her with
loaded pistols. Fortunately, she has plenty of courage and does not fear
him. Notwithstanding this, he is very fond of her; and this is the more
surprising, because his love for the sex is not very strong; and although
he visits improper places occasionally, it is only for the purpose of
tormenting the poor wretches who are to be found there. Before he was
married he felt no, affection for any woman but his mother, who also
loved him very tenderly. She is now vexed at having no longer the same
ascendency over her son, and is jealous of her daughter-in-law because
the Prince loves her alone. This occasions frequent disturbances in the
house. The mother has had a house: built at some distance from her son.
When they are good friends, she dismisses the workmen; but when they
quarrel, she doubles the number and hastens the work, so that one may
always tell, upon a mere inspection of the building, upon what terms the
Princesse de Conti and her son are living. The mother wished to have her
grandson to educate; her daughter-in-law opposed it because she preferred
taking care of him herself; and then ensued a dog-and-cat quarrel. The
wife, who is cunning enough, governs her husband entirely, and has gained
over his favourites to be her creatures. She is the idol of the-whole
In order to prevent the Prince de Conti from going to Hungary, the
government of Poitou has been bought for him, and a place in the Council
of the Regency allotted to him; by this means they have retained the wild
Our young Princess says her husband has a rheum in his eyes.
To amuse her, he reads aloud Ovid in the original; and although she does
not understand one word of Latin, she is obliged to listen and to remain
silent, even though any one should come in; for if anybody interrupts him
he is angry, and scolds all who are in the apartment.
At the last masked ball (4th March, 1718) some one who had dressed
himself like the Prince de Conti, and wore a hump on his back, went and
sat beside him. "Who are you, mask?" asked the Prince.
The other replied, "I am the Prince de Conti."
Without the least ill-temper, the Prince took off his mask, and,
laughing, said, "See how a man may be deceived. I have been fancying for
the last twenty years that I was the Prince de Conti." To keep one's
temper on such an occasion is really an uncommon thing.
The Prince thought himself quite cured, but he has had a relapse in
Spain, and, although he is a general of cavalry, he cannot mount his
horse. I said on Tuesday last (17th July, 1719) to the young Princesse
de Conti that I heard her husband was not entirely recovered. She
laughed and whispered to me,--
"Oh, yes, he is quite well; but he pretends not to be so that he may
avoid going to the siege, where he may be killed, for he is as cowardly
as an ape." I think if I had as little inclination for war as he has, I
would not engage in the campaign at all; there is nothing to oblige him
to do so-it is to reap glory, not to encounter shame, that men go into
the army. His best friends, Lanoue and Cleremont, for example, have
remonstrated with him on this subject, and he has quarrelled with them in
consequence. It is an unfortunate thing for a man not to know himself.
The Prince is terribly afflicted with a dysentery. They wanted to carry
him to Bayonne, but he has so violent a fever that he would not be able
to support the journey. He is therefore obliged to stay with the army
(25th August, 1719).
He has been back nine or ten days, but I have heard nothing of him yet;
he is constantly engaged in the Rue de Quincampoix, trying to gain money
among the stock-jobbers (19th September, 1719).
At length he has been to see me. Perhaps there was this morning less
stock-jobbing than usual in the Rue de Quincampoix, for there he has been
ever since his return. His cousin, the Duke, is engaged in the same
pursuit. The Prince de Conti has not brought back much honour from the
campaign; he is too much addicted to debauchery of all kinds.
Although he can be polite when he chooses, no one can behave more
brutally than he does occasionally, and he becomes more and more mad
At one of the last opera balls he seized a poor little girl just come
from the country, took her from her mother's side, and, placing her
between his own legs, amused himself by slapping and filliping her until
he made her nose and mouth bleed. The young girl, who had done nothing
to offend him, and who did not even know him, wept bitterly; but he only
laughed, and said, "Cannot I give nice fillips?" All who were witnesses
of this brutal scene pitied her; but no one dared come to the poor
child's assistance, for they were afraid of having anything to do with
this violent madman. He makes the most frightful grimaces, and I, who am
extremely frightened at crazy people, tremble whenever I happen to be
alone with him.
His wicked pranks remind me of my own. When I was a child I used to take
touchwood, and, placing pieces of it over my eyes and in my mouth, I hid
myself upon the staircase for the purpose of terrifying the people; but I
was then much afraid of ghosts, so that I was always the first to be
frightened. It is in the same way that the Prince de Conti does; he
wishes to make himself feared, and he is the most timid person in the
The Duke and his mother, as well as Lasse, the friend of the latter, have
gained several millions. The Prince has gained less, and yet his
winnings, they say, amount to millions.
[He had four wagons loaded with silver carried from Law's bank, in
exchange for his paper money; and this it was that accelerated Law's
disgrace, and created a kind of popularity for the Prince de Conti.]
The two cousins do not stir from the Rue de Quincampoix, which has given
rise to the following epigram:
Prince dites nous vos exploits
Que faites vous pour votre gloire?
Taisez-vous sots!--Lisez l'histoire
De la rue de Quincampoix.
But the person who had gained most by this affair is Dantin, who is
The Princesse de Conti told me that she had had her son examined in his
infancy by Clement, for the purpose of ascertaining whether he was in
every respect well made; and that he, having found the child perfectly
well made, went to the Prince de Conti, and said to him: "Monseigneur, I
have examined the shape of the young Prince who is just born: he is at
all points well formed, let him sleep without a bolster that he may
remain so; and only imagine what grief it would occasion to the Princesse
de Conti, who has brought him into the world straight, if you should make
The Prince de Conti wished to speak of something else, but Clement still
returned to the same topic, saying, "Remember, Monseigneur, he is
straight as a wand, and do not make him crooked and hunchbacked."
The Prince de Conti, not being able to endure this, ran away.
THE ABBE DUBOIS.
My son had a sub-governor, and he it was who appointed the Abbe, a very
learned person, to be his tutor. The sub-governor's intention was to
have dismissed the Abbe as soon as he should have taught my son
sufficiently, and, excepting during the time occupied by the lessons,
he never suffered him to remain with his pupil. But this good gentleman
could not accomplish his design; for being seized with a violent colic,
he died, unhappily for me, in a few hours. The Abbe then proposed
himself to supply his place. There was no other preceptor near at hand,
so the Abbe remained with my son, and assumed so adroitly the language of
an honest man that I took him for one until my son's marriage; then it
was that I discovered all his knavery. I had a strong regard for him,
because I thought he was tenderly attached to my son, and only desired to
promote his advantage; but when I found that he was a treacherous person,
who thought only of his own interest, and that, instead of carefully
trying to preserve my son's honour, he plunged him into ruin by
permitting him to give himself up to debauchery without seeming to
perceive it, then my esteem for this artful priest was changed into
disgust. I know, from my son himself, that the Abbe, having one day met
him in the street, just as he was about to enter a house of ill-fame, did
nothing but laugh at him, instead of taking him by the arm and leading
him home again. By this culpable indulgence, and by the part he took in
my son's marriage, he has proved that there is neither faith nor honesty
in him. I know that I do him no wrong in suspecting him to have
contributed to my son's marriage; what I say I have from my son himself,
and from people who were living with that old Maintenon at the time, when
the Abbe used to go nightly for the purpose of arranging that intrigue
with her, the object of which was to sell and betray his master. He
deceives himself if he fancies that I do not know all this. At first he
had declared in my favour, but after the old woman had sent for him two
or three times he suddenly changed his conduct. It was not, however, on
this that the King afterwards took a dislike to him, but for a nefarious
scheme in which he was engaged with the Pere La Chaise. Monsieur was as
much vexed as I. The King and the old woman threatened to dismiss all
his favourites, which made him consent to everything; he repented
afterwards, but it was then too late.
I would to God that the Abbe Dubois had as much religion as he has
talent! but he believes in nothing--he is treacherous and wicked--his
falsehood may be seen in his very eyes. He has the look of a fox; and
his device is an animal of this sort, creeping out of his hole and
watching a fowl. He is unquestionably a good scholar, talks well, and
has instructed my son well; but I wish he had ceased to visit his pupil
after his tuition was terminated. I should not then have to regret this
unfortunate marriage, to which I can never reconcile myself. Excepting
the Abbe Dubois there is no priest in my son's favour. He has a sort of
indistinctness in his speech, which makes it sometimes necessary for him
to repeat his words; and this often annoys me.
If there is anything which detracts from the Abbe's good sense it is his
extreme pride; it is a weak side upon which he may always be successfully
attacked. I wish my son had as little confidence in him as I have; but
what astonishes me most is that, knowing him as he does, better than I
do, he will still trust him. My son is like the rest of his family; he
cannot get rid of persons to whom he is accustomed, and as the Abbe has
been his tutor, he has acquired a habit of suffering him to say anything
he chooses. By his amusing wit, too, he always contrives to restore
himself to my son's good graces, even when the latter has been displeased
If the Abbe had been choked with his first lie he had been dead long ago.
Lying is an art in which he excels, and the more eminently where his own
interest is concerned; if I were to enumerate all the lies I have known
him to utter I should have a long list to write. He it was who suggested
to the King all that was necessary to be said to him respecting my son's
marriage, and for this purpose he had secret interviews with Madame de
Maintenon. He affects to think we are upon good terms, and whatever I
say to him, however disagreeable, he takes it all with a smile.
My son has most amply recompensed the Abbe Dubois; he has given him the
place of Secretary of the King's Cabinet, which M. Calieres formerly
held, and which is worth 22,000 livres; he has also given him a seat in
the Council of Regency for the Foreign Affairs.
My son assures me that it is not his intention to make the Abbe Dubois a
Cardinal, and that the Abbe himself does not think about it (17th August,
On the 6th of March, this disagreeable priest came to me and said,
"Monseigneur has just nominated me Archbishop of Cambrai." I replied,
"I congratulate you upon it; but has this taken place today? I heard of
it a week ago; and, since you were seen to take the oaths on your
appointment, no one has doubted it." It is said that the Duc de Mazarin
said, on the Abbe's first Mass, "The Abbe Dubois is gone to his first
communion;" meaning that he had never before taken the communion in all
his life. I embarrassed my son by remarking to him that he had changed
his opinion since he told me the Abbe should never become Bishop or
Archbishop, and that he did not think of being Cardinal. My son blushed
and answered, "It is very true; but I had good reason for changing my
intention." "Heaven grant it may be so," I said, "for it must be by
God's mercy, and not from the exercise of your own reason."
The Archbishop of Cambrai is the declared enemy of our Abbe Saint-Albin.
The word arch is applicable to all his qualities; he is an arch-cheat, an
arch-hypocrite, an arch-flatterer, and, above all, an arch-knave.
It is reported that a servant of the Archbishop of Rheims said to a
servant of the Archbishop of Cambrai, "Although my master is not a
Cardinal, he is still a greater lord than yours, for he consecrates the
"Yes," replied the Abbe Dubois' servant, "but my master consecrates the
real God, who is still greater than all Kings."
Mr. Law is a very honest and a very sensible man; he is extremely polite
to everybody, and very well bred. He does not speak French ill--at
least, he speaks it much better than Englishmen in general. It is said
that when his brother arrived in Paris, Mr. Law made him a present of
three millions (of livres); he has good talents, and has put the affairs
of the State in such good order that all the King's debts have been paid.
He is admirably skilled in all that relates to finance. The late King
would have been glad to employ him, but, as Mr. Law was not a Catholic,
he said he ought not to confide in him (19th Sept., 1719).
He (Law) says that, of all the persons to whom he has explained his
system, there have been only two who have properly comprehended it, and
these are the King of Sicily and my son; he was quite astonished at their
having so readily understood it. He is so much run after, that he has no
repose by day or by night. A Duchess even kissed his hand publicly.
If a Duchess can do this, what will not other ladies do?
Another lady, who pursued him everywhere, heard that he was at Madame de
Simiane's, and immediately begged the latter to permit her to dine with
her. Madame de Simiane went to her and said she must be excused for that
day, as Mr. Law was to dine with her. Madame de Bouchu replied that it
was for this reason expressly she wished to be invited. Madame de
Simiane only repeated that she did not choose to have Mr. Law troubled,
and so quitted her. Having, however, ascertained the dinner-hour, Madame
de Bouchu passed before the house in her coach, and made her coachman and
footman call out "Fire!" Immediately all the company quitted the table
to know where the fire was, and among them Mr. Law appeared. As soon as
Madame de Bouchu saw him, she jumped out of her carriage to speak to him;
but he, guessing the trick, instantly disappeared.
Another lady ordered her carriage to be driven opposite to Mr. Law's
hotel and then to be overturned. Addressing herself to the coachman, she
said, "Overturn here, you blockhead--overturn!" Mr. Law ran out to her
assistance, when she confessed to him that she had done this for the sole
purpose of having an interview with him.
A servant had gained so much in the Rue de Quincampoix, that he was
enabled to set up his equipage. When his coach was brought home, he
forgot who he was, and mounted behind. His servant cried out, "Ah, sir!
what are you doing? this is your own carriage."
"That is true," said the quondam servant; "I had forgotten."
Mr. Law's coachman having also made a very considerable sum, demanded
permission to retire from his service. His master gave it him, on
condition of his procuring him another good coachman. On the next day,
the wealthy coachman made his appearance with two persons, both of whom
were, he said, good coachmen; and that Mr. Law had only to choose which
of them he liked, while he, the coachman, would take the other.
People of all nations in Europe are daily coming to Paris; and it has
been remarked that the number of souls in the capital has been increased
by 250,000 more than usual. It has been necessary to make granaries into
bedrooms; there is such a profusion of carriages that the streets are
choked up with them, and many persons run great danger.
Some ladies of quality seeing a well-dressed woman covered with diamonds,
and whom nobody knew, alight from a very handsome carriage, were curious
to know who it was, and sent to enquire of the lackey. He replied, with
a sneer, "It is a lady who has recently tumbled from a garret into this
carriage." This lady was probably of the same sort as Madame Bejon's
cook. That lady, being at the opera, some days back, saw a person in
a costly dress, and decorated with a great quantity of jewels, but very
ugly, enter the theatre. The daughter said, "Mamma, unless I am very
much deceived, that lady so dressed out is Mary, our cook-maid."
"Hold your tongue, my dear," said the mother, "and don't talk such
Some of the young people, who were in the amphitheatre, began to cry out,
"Mary, the cook-maid! Mary, the cook-maid!"
The lady in the fine dress rose and said, "Yes, madam, I am Mary, the
cook-maid; I have gained some money in the Rue de Quincampoix; I like to
be well-dressed; I have bought some fine gowns, and I have paid for them.
Can you say so much for your own?"
Mr. Law is not the only person who has bought magnificent jewels and
extensive estates. The Duke, too, has become immensely rich, as well as
all those who have held stock. Mr. Law has made his abjuration at Melun;
he has embraced the Catholic religion, with his children, and his wife is
in utter despair at it.
[The abjuration did not take place at Paris, because the jokes of
the Parisians were to be dreaded. The Abbe Tencin was so fortunate
as to have the office of converting Mr. Law. "He gained by this
pious labour," says Duclos, "a large sum in bank-notes and stock."]
It is amusing enough to see how the people run after him in crowds only
to be looked at by him or his son. He has had a terrible quarrel with
the Prince de Conti, who wished Mr. Law to do at the bank a thing which
my son had forbidden. The Prince de Conti said to Mr. Law, "Do you know
who I am?"
"Yes, Prince," replied Law, "or I should not treat you as I have done."
"Then," said the Prince, "you ought to obey me."
"I will obey you," replied Law, "when you shall be Regent;" and he
The Princesse de Leon would be taken to the bank, and made her footmen
cry out, "Room for the Princesse de Lion." At the same time she, who is
very little, slipped into the place where the bankers and their clerks
"I want some stock," said she.
The clerk replied, "You must have patience, madame, the certificates are
delivered in rotation, and you must wait until those who applied before
you are served."
At the same time he opened the drawer where the stock-papers were kept;
the Princess snatched at them; the clerk tried to prevent her, and a
fight ensued. The clerk was now alarmed at having beaten a lady of
quality, and ran out to ask the servants who the Princesse de Leon was.
One of the footmen-said, "She is a lady of high rank, young and
"Well, then," said the clerk, "it cannot be she."
Another footman said, "The Princesse de Leon is a little woman with a
hunch before and another behind, and with arms so long that they nearly
reach the ground."
"Then," replied the clerk, "that is she."
Mr. Law is not avaricious; he gives away large soma in charity, and
assists many indigent people.
When my son wanted some Duchess to accompany my daughter to Geneva, some
one, who heard him speaking about it, said, "if, Monsieur, you would like
to select from a number of Duchesses, send to Mr. Law's; you will find
them all there."
Lord Stair cannot conceal his hatred of Mr. Law, and yet he has gained at
least three millions by him.
Mr. Law's son was to have danced in the King's ballet, but he has been
attacked by the small-pox (9th Feb., 1720).
My son has been obliged to displace Mr. Law. This person, who was
formerly worshipped like a god, is now not sure of his life; it is
astonishing how greatly terrified he is. He is no longer Comptroller-
General, but continues to hold the place of Director-General of the Bank
and of the East India Company; certain members of the Parliamentary
Council have, however, been joined with him to watch over the business
of the Bank.
[In the Council of the Regency, the Duc d'Orleans was obliged to:
admit that Law issued papers to the amount of 1,200 millions above
the legal sum; and that he (the Regent) had protected him from all
responsibility by decrees of the Council which had been ante-dated.
The total, amount of bank-notes in circulation was 2,700,000,000
His friend, the Duc d'Antin wanted to get the place of Director.
The Duke at first spoke strongly against Law; but it is said that a sum
of four millions, three of which went to him and one to Madame de Prie,
has engaged him to undertake Law's defence. My son is not timid,
although he is threatened on all sides, and is very much amused with
Law's terrors (25th June, 1720).
At length the latter is somewhat recovered, and continues to be great
friends with the Duke: this is very pleasant to the Duc de Conti, and
makes him behave so strangely that his infirmity is observed by the
people. It is fortunate for us that Law is so great a coward, otherwise
he would be very troublesome to my son, who, learning that he was joining
in a cabal against him, told his wife of it. "Well, Monsieur," said she,
"what would you have him do? He likes to be talked of, and he has no
other way of accomplishing it. What would people have to say of him if
he did not?"
On the 17th of June, while I was at the Carmelites, Madame de Chateau-
Thiers came to me in my chamber, and said, "M. de Simiane is just come in
from the Palais Royal, and he thinks it fit you should know that upon
your return you will find the court of the Palais Royal filled with
people, who, though they do not say anything, will not disperse."
At six o'clock this morning they brought in three dead bodies, which M.
Le Blanc ordered to be carried away immediately.
Mr. Law has taken refuge in the Palais Royal. The populace have done him
no harm, but his coachman has been pelted on his return, and the carriage
broken to pieces. It was the coachman's own fault, who said aloud that
the people were rabble, and ought to be all hanged. I saw immediately
that it would not do to display any fear, and I set off. There was such
a stoppage of the carriages that I was obliged to wait half an hour
before I could get into the Palais Royal. During this time I heard the
people talking; they said nothing against my son, and bestowed
benedictions upon me, but they all wished Law to be hanged. When I
reached the Palais Royal all was calm again; my son came to me
immediately, and, notwithstanding the alarm I had felt, he made me laugh;
as for himself, he had not the least fear. He told me that the first
president had made a good impromptu upon this affair. Having occasion to
go down into the court, he heard what the people had done with Law's
carriage, and, upon returning to the Salon, he said with great gravity:
"Messieurs, bonne nouvelle,
Le carrosse de Law est en canelle."
Is not this a becoming jest for such serious personages? M. Le Blanc
went into the midst of the people with great firmness, and made a speech
to them; he afterwards had Law escorted home and all became tranquil.
It is almost impossible that Law should escape, for the same soldiers who
protect him from the fury of the people will not permit him to go out of
their hands. He is by no means at his ease, and yet I think the people
do not now intend to pursue him any farther, for they have begun to make
all kinds of songs about him.
Law is said to be in such an agony of fear that he has not been able to
venture to my son's at Saint Cloud, although he sent a carriage to fetch
him. He is a dead man; he is as pale as a sheet, and it is said can
never get over his last panic. The people's hatred of the Duke arises
from his being the friend of Law, whose children he carried to Saint
Maur, where they are to remain.
M. Boursel, passing through the Rue Saint Antoine in his way from the
Jesuits' College, had his carriage stopped by a hackney coachman, who
would neither come on nor go back. M. Boursel's footman, enraged at his
obstinacy, struck the coachman, and, M. Boursel getting out of his coach
to restrain his servant's rage, the coachman resolved to be avenged of
both master and man, and so began to cry out, "Here is Law going to kill
me; fall upon him."
The people immediately ran with staves and stones, and attacked Boursel,
who took refuge in the church of the Jesuits. He was pursued even to the
altar, where he found a little door opened which led into the convent.
He rushed through and shut it after him, by which means he saved his
M. de Chiverni, the tutor of the Duc de Chartres, was going into the
Palais Royal in a chair, when a child about eight years old cried out,
"There goes Law!" and the people immediately assembled. M. Chiverni, who
is a little, meagre-faced, ugly old man, said pleasantly enough, "I knew
very well I had nothing to fear when I should show them my face and
As soon as they saw him they suffered him to get quietly into his chair
and to enter the gates of the palace.
On the 10th of December (1720), Law withdrew; he is now at one of his
estates about six miles from Paris. The Duke, who wished to visit him,
thought proper to take Mdlle. de Prie's post-chaise, and put his footman
into a grey livery, otherwise the people would have known and have
Law is gone to Brussels; Madame de Prie lent him her chaise. When he
returned it, he wrote thanking her, and at the same time sent her a ring
worth 100,000 livres. The Duke provided him with relays, and made four
of his own people accompany him. When he took leave of my son, Law said
to him, "Monsieur, I have committed several great faults, but they are
merely such as are incident to humanity; you will find neither malice nor
dishonesty in my conduct." His wife would not go away until she had paid
all their debts; he owed to his rotisseur alone 10,000 livres.
[Mr. Law retired to Venice, and there ended his days. Some memoirs
state that he was not married to the Englishwoman who passed for his
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