A Hunting Adventure.--Story and Catastrophe of Fargues.--Death and
Character of Ninon de l'Enclos.--Odd Adventure of Courtenvaux.--Spies at
Court.--New Enlistment.--Wretched State of the Country.--Balls at Marly.
Arrival of Vendome at Court.--Character of That Disgusting Personage.--
Rise of Cardinal Alberoni.--Vendome's Reception at Marly.--His Unheard-of
Triumph.--His High Flight.--Returns to Italy.--Battle of Calcinato.--
Condition of the Army.--Pique of the Marechal de Villeroy.--Battle of
Abandonment of the Siege of Barcelona.--Affairs of Italy.--
La Feuillade.--Disastrous Rivalries.--Conduct of M. d'Orleans.--The Siege
of Turin.--Battle.--Victory of Prince Eugene.--Insubordination in the
Army.--Retreat.--M. d'Orleans Returns to Court.--Disgrace of La Feuillade
Measures of Economy.--Financial Embarrassments.--The King and
Chamillart.--Tax on Baptisms and Marriages.--Vauban's Patriotism.--
Its Punishment.--My Action with M. de Brissac.--I Appeal to the King.--
The Result.--I Gain My Action.
My Appointment as Ambassador to Rome.--How It Fell Through.--Anecdotes of
the Bishop of Orleans.--A Droll Song.--A Saint in Spite of Himself.--
Fashionable Crimes.--A Forged Genealogy.--Abduction of Beringhen.--
The 'Parvulos' of Meudon and Mademoiselle Choin.
Death and Last Days of Madame de Montespan.--Selfishness of the King.--
Death and Character of Madame de Nemours.--Neufchatel and Prussia.--
Campaign of Villars.--Naval Successes.--Inundations of the Loire.--Siege
of Toulon.--A Quarrel about News.--Quixotic Despatches of Tesse.
Two very different persons died towards the latter part of this year.
The first was Lamoignon, Chief President; the second, Ninon, known by the
name of Mademoiselle de l'Enclos. Of Lamoignon I will relate a single
anecdote, curious and instructive, which will show the corruption of
which he was capable.
One day--I am speaking of a time many years previous to the date of the
occurrences just related--one day there was a great hunting party at
Saint Germain. The chase was pursued so long, that the King gave up,
and returned to Saint Germain. A number of courtiers, among whom was
M. de Lauzun, who related this story to me, continued their sport; and
just as darkness was coming on, discovered that they had lost their way.
After a time, they espied a light, by which they guided their steps, and
at length reached the door of a kind of castle. They knocked, they
called aloud, they named themselves, and asked for hospitality. It was
then between ten and eleven at night, and towards the end of autumn.
The door was opened to them. The master of the house came forth.
He made them take their boots off, and warm themselves; he put their
horses into his stables; and at the same time had a supper prepared for
his guests, who stood much in need of it. They did not wait long for the
meal; yet when served it proved excellent; the wines served with it, too,
were of several kinds, and excellent likewise: as for the master of the
house, he was so polite and respectful, yet without being ceremonious or
eager, that it was evident he had frequented the best company. The
courtiers soon learnt that his name vitas Fargues, that the place was
called Courson, and that he had lived there in retirement several years.
After having supped, Fargues showed each of them into a separate bedroom,
where they were waited upon by his valets with every proper attention.
In the morning, as soon as the courtiers had dressed themselves, they
found an excellent breakfast awaiting them; and upon leaving the table
they saw their horses ready for them, and as thoroughly attended to as
they had been themselves. Charmed with the politeness and with the
manners of Fargues, and touched by his hospitable reception of them, they
made him many offers of service, and made their way back to Saint
Germain. Their non-appearance on the previous night had been the common
talk, their return and the adventure they had met with was no less so.
These gentlemen were then the very flower of the Court, and all of them
very intimate with the King. They related to him, therefore, their
story, the manner of their reception, and highly praised the master of
the house and his good cheer. The King asked his name, and, as soon as
he heard it, exclaimed, "What, Fargues! is he so near here, then?"
The courtiers redoubled their praises, and the King said no more; but
soon after, went to the Queen-mother, and told her what had happened.
Fargues, indeed, was no stranger, either to her or to the King. He had
taken a prominent part in the movements of Paris against the Court and
Cardinal Mazarin. If he had not been hanged, it was because he was well
supported by his party, who had him included in the amnesty granted to
those who had been engaged in these troubles. Fearing, however, that the
hatred of his enemies might place his life in danger if he remained in
Paris, he retired from the capital to this country-house which has just
been mentioned, where he continued to live in strict privacy, even when
the death of Cardinal Mazarin seemed to render such seclusion no longer
The King and the Queen-mother, who had pardoned Fargues in spite of
themselves, were much annoyed at finding that he was living in opulence
and tranquillity so near the Court; thought him extremely bold to do so;
and determined to punish him for this and for his former insolence. They
directed Lamoignon, therefore, to find out something in the past life of
Fargues for which punishment might be awarded; and Lamoignon, eager to
please, and make a profit out of his eagerness, was not long in
satisfying them. He made researches, and found means to implicate
Fargues in a murder that had been committed in Paris at the height of the
troubles. Officers were accordingly sent to Courson, and its owner was
Fargues was much astonished when he learnt of what he was accused. He
exculpated himself, nevertheless, completely; alleging, moreover, that as
the murder of which he was accused had been committed during the
troubles, the amnesty in which he was included effaced all memory of the
deed, according to law and usage, which had never been contested until
this occasion. The courtiers who had been so well treated by the unhappy
man, did everything they could with the judges and the King to obtain the
release of the accused. It was all in vain. Fargues was decapitated at
once, and all his wealth was given by way of recompense to the Chief-
President Lamoignon, who had no scruple thus to enrich himself with the
blood of the innocent.
The other person who died at the same time was, as I have said, Ninon,
the famous courtesan, known, since age had compelled her to quit that
trade, as Mademoiselle de l'Enclos. She was a new example of the triumph
of vice carried on cleverly and repaired by some virtue. The stir that
she made, and still more the disorder that she caused among the highest
and most brilliant youth, overcame the extreme indulgence that, not
without cause, the Queen-mother entertained for persons whose conduct was
gallant, and more than gallant, and made her send her an order to retire
into a convent. But Ninon, observing that no especial convent was named,
said, with a great courtesy, to the officer who brought the order, that,
as the option was left to her, she would choose "the convent of the
Cordeliers at Paris;" which impudent joke so diverted the Queen that she
left her alone for the future. Ninon never had but one lover at a time--
but her admirers were numberless--so that when wearied of one incumbent
she told him so frankly, and took another: The abandoned one might groan
and complain; her decree was without appeal; and this creature had
acquired such an influence, that the deserted lovers never dared to take
revenge on the favoured one, and were too happy to remain on the footing
of friend of the house. She sometimes kept faithful to one, when he
pleased her very much, during an entire campaign.
Ninon had illustrious friends of all sorts, and had so much wit that she
preserved them all and kept them on good terms with each other; or, at
least, no quarrels ever came to light. There was an external respect and
decency about everything that passed in her house, such as princesses of
the highest rank have rarely been able to preserve in their intrigues.
In this way she had among her friends a selection of the best members of
the Court; so that it became the fashion to be received by her, and it
was useful to be so, on account of the connections that were thus formed.
There was never any gambling there, nor loud laughing, nor disputes, nor
talk about religion or politics; but much and elegant wit, ancient and
modern stories, news of gallantries, yet without scandal. All was
delicate, light, measured; and she herself maintained the conversation by
her wit and her great knowledge of facts. The respect which, strange to
say, she had acquired, and the number and distinction of her friends and
acquaintances, continued when her charms ceased to attract; and when
propriety and fashion compelled her to use only intellectual baits. She
knew all the intrigues of the old and the new Court, serious and
otherwise; her conversation was charming; she was disinterested,
faithful, secret, safe to the last degree; and, setting aside her
frailty, virtuous and full of probity. She frequently succoured her
friends with money and influence; constantly did them the most important
services, and very faithfully kept the secrets or the money deposits that
were confided to her.
She had been intimate with Madame de Maintenon during the whole of her
residence at Paris; but Madame de Maintenon, although not daring to
disavow this friendship, did not like to hear her spoken about.
She wrote to Ninon with amity from time to time, even until her death;
and Ninon in like manner, when she wanted to serve any friend in whom she
took great interest, wrote to Madame de Maintenon, who did her what
service she required efficaciously and with promptness.
But since Madame de Maintenon came to power, they had only seen each
other two or three times, and then in secret.
Ninon was remarkable for her repartees. One that she made to the last
Marechal de Choiseul is worth repeating. The Marechal was virtue itself,
but not fond of company or blessed with much wit. One day, after a long
visit he had paid her, Ninon gaped, looked at the Marechal, and cried:
"Oh, my lord! how many virtues you make me detest!"
A line from I know not what play. The laughter at this may be imagined.
L'Enclos lived, long beyond her eightieth year, always healthy, visited,
respected. She gave her last years to God, and her death was the news of
the day. The singularity of this personage has made me extend my
observations upon her.
A short time after the death of Mademoiselle de l'Enclos, a terrible
adventure happened to Courtenvaux, eldest son of M. de Louvois.
Courtenvaux was commander of the Cent-Suisses, fond of obscure debauches;
with a ridiculous voice, miserly, quarrelsome, though modest and
respectful; and in fine a very stupid fellow. The King, more eager to
know all that was passing than most people believed, although they gave
him credit for not a little curiosity in this respect, had authorised
Bontems to engage a number of Swiss in addition to those posted at the
doors, and in the parks and gardens. These attendants had orders to
stroll morning, noon, and night, along the corridors, the passages, the
staircases, even into the private places, and, when it was fine, in the
court-yards and gardens; and in secret to watch people, to follow them,
to notice where they went, to notice who was there, to listen to all the
conversation they could hear, and to make reports of their discoveries.
This was assiduously done at Versailles, at Marly, at Trianon, at
Fontainebleau, and in all the places where the King was. These new
attendants vexed Courtenvaux considerably, for over such new-comers he
had no sort of authority. This season, at Fontainebleau, a room, which
had formerly been occupied by a party of the Cent-Suisses and of the
body-guard, was given up entirely to the new corps. The room was in a
public passage of communication indispensable to all in the chateau, and
in consequence, excellently well adapted for watching those who passed
through it. Courtenvaux, more than ever vexed by this new arrangement,
regarded it as a fresh encroachment upon his authority, and flew into a
violent rage with the new-comers, and railed at them in good set terms.
They allowed him to fume as he would; they had their orders, and were too
wise to be disturbed by his rage. The King, who heard of all this, sent
at once for Courtenvaux. As soon as he appeared in the cabinet, the King
called to him from the other end of the room, without giving him time to
approach, and in a rage so terrible, and for him so novel, that not only
Courtenvaux, but Princes, Princesses, and everybody in the chamber,
trembled. Menaces that his post should be taken away from him, terms the
most severe and the most unusual, rained upon Courtenvaux, who, fainting
with fright, and ready to sink under the ground, had neither the time nor
the means to prefer a word. The reprimand finished by the King saying,
"Get out." He had scarcely the strength to obey.
The cause of this strange scene was that Courtenvaux, by the fuss he had
made, had drawn the attention of the whole Court to the change effected
by the King, and that, when once seen, its object was clear to all eyes.
The King, who hid his spy system with the greatest care, had counted upon
this change passing unperceived, and was beside himself with anger when
he found it made apparent to everybody by Courtenvaux's noise. He never
regained the King's favour during the rest of his life; and but for his
family he would certainly have been driven away, and his office taken
Let me speak now of something of more moment.
The war, as I have said, still continued, but without bringing us any
advantages. On the contrary, our losses in Germany and Italy by
sickness, rather than by the sword, were so great that it was resolved to
augment each company by five men; and, at the same time, twenty-five
thousand militia were raised, thus causing great ruin and great
desolation in the provinces. The King was rocked into the belief that
the people were all anxious to enter this militia, and, from time to
time, at Marly, specimens of those enlisted were shown to him, and their
joy and eagerness to serve made much of. I have heard this often; while,
at the same time, I knew from my own tenantry, and from everything that
was said, that the raising of this militia carried despair everywhere,
and that many people mutilated themselves in order to exempt themselves
from serving. Nobody at the Court was ignorant of this. People lowered
their eyes when they saw the deceit practised upon the King, and the
credulity he displayed, and afterwards whispered one to another what they
thought of flattery so ruinous. Fresh regiments, too, were raised at
this time, and a crowd of new colonels and staffs created, instead of
giving a new battalion or a squadron additional to regiments already in
existence. I saw quite plainly towards what rock we were drifting. We
had met losses at Hochstedt, Gibraltar, and Barcelona; Catalonia and the
neighbouring countries were in revolt; Italy yielding us nothing but
miserable successes; Spain exhausted; France, failing in men and money,
and with incapable generals, protected by the Court against their faults.
I saw all these things so plainly that I could not avoid making
reflections, or reporting them to my friends in office. I thought that
it was time to finish the war before we sank still lower, and that it
might be finished by giving to the Archduke what we could not defend, and
making a division of the rest. My plan was to leave Philip V.
possession of all Italy, except those parts which belonged to the Grand
Duke, the republics of Venice and Genoa, and the ecclesiastical states of
Naples and Sicily; our King to have Lorraine and some other slight
additions of territory; and to place elsewhere the Dukes of Savoy, of
Lorraine, of Parma, and of Modem. I related this plan to the Chancellor
and to Chamillart, amongst others. The contrast between their replies
was striking. The Chancellor, after having listened to me very
attentively, said, if my plan were adopted, he would most willingly kiss
my toe for joy. Chamillart, with gravity replied, that the King would
not give up a single mill of all the Spanish succession. Then I felt the
blindness which had fallen upon us, and how much the results of it were
to be dreaded.
Nevertheless, the King, as if to mock at misfortune and to show his
enemies the little uneasiness he felt, determined, at the commencement of
the new year, 1706, that the Court should be gayer than ever. He
announced that there would be balls at Marly every time he was there this
winter, and he named those who were to dance there; and said he should be
very glad to see balls given to Madame de Bourgogne at Versailles.
Accordingly, many took place there, and also at Marly, and from time to
time there were masquerades. One day, the King wished that everybody,
even the most aged, who were at Marly, should go to the ball masked; and,
to avoid all distinction, he went there himself with a gauze robe above
his habit; but such a slight disguise was for himself alone; everybody
else was completely disguised. M. and Madame de Beauvilliers were there
perfectly disguised. When I say they were there, those who knew the
Court will admit that I have said more than enough. I had the pleasure
of seeing them, and of quietly laughing with them. At all these balls
the King made people dance who had long since passed the age for doing
so. As for the Comte de Brionne and the Chevalier de Sully, their
dancing was so perfect that there was no age for them.
In the midst of all this gaiety, that is to say on the 12th of February,
1706, one of our generals, of whom I have often spoken, I mean M. de
Vendome, arrived at Marly. He had not quitted Italy since succeeding to
Marechal de Villeroy, after the affair of Cremona. His battles, such as
they were, the places he had taken, the authority he had assumed, the
reputation he had usurped, his incomprehensible successes with the King,
the certainty of the support he leaned on,--all this inspired him with
the desire to come and enjoy at Court a situation so brilliant, and which
so far surpassed what he had a right to expect. But before speaking of
the reception which was given him, and of the incredible ascendancy he
took, let me paint him from the life a little more completely than I have
Vendome was of ordinary height, rather stout, but vigorous and active:
with a very noble countenance and lofty mien. There was much natural
grace in his carriage and words; he had a good deal of innate wit, which
he had not cultivated, and spoke easily, supported by a natural boldness,
which afterwards turned to the wildest audacity; he knew the world and
the Court; was above all things an admirable courtier; was polite when
necessary, but insolent when he dared--familiar with common people--in
reality, full of the most ravenous pride. As his rank rose and his
favour increased, his obstinacy, and pig-headedness increased too, so
that at last he would listen to no advice whatever, and was inaccessible
to all, except a small number of familiars and valets. No one better
than he knew the subserviency of the French character, or took more
advantage of it. Little by little he accustomed his subalterns, and then
from one to the other all his army, to call him nothing but
"Monseigneur," and "Your Highness." In time the gangrene spread, and
even lieutenant-generals and the most distinguished people did not dare
to address him in any other manner.
The most wonderful thing to whoever knew the King--so gallant to the
ladies during a long part of his life, so devout the other, and often
importunate to make others do as he did--was that the said King had
always a singular horror of the inhabitants of the Cities of the Plain;
and yet M. de Vendome, though most odiously stained with that vice--so
publicly that he treated it as an ordinary gallantry--never found his
favour diminished on that account. The Court, Anet, the army, knew of
these abominations. Valets and subaltern officers soon found the way to
promotion. I have already mentioned how publicly he placed himself in
the doctor's hands, and how basely the Court acted, imitating the King,
who would never have pardoned a legitimate prince what he indulged so
strangely in Vendome.
The idleness of M. de Vendome was equally matter of notoriety. More than
once he ran the risk of being taken prisoner from mere indolence. He
rarely himself saw anything at the army, trusting to his familiars when
ready to trust anybody. The way he employed his day prevented any real
attention to business. He was filthy in the extreme, and proud of it.
Fools called it simplicity. His bed was always full of dogs and bitches,
who littered at his side, the pops rolling in the clothes. He himself
was under constraint in nothing. One of his theses was, that everybody
resembled him, but was not honest enough to confess it as he was. He
mentioned this once to the Princesse de Conti--the cleanest person in the
world, and the most delicate in her cleanliness.
He rose rather late when at the army. In this situation he wrote his
letters, and gave his morning orders. Whoever had business with him,
general officers and distinguished persons, could speak to him then. He
had accustomed the army to this infamy. At the same time he gobbled his
breakfast; and whilst he ate, listened, or gave orders, many spectators
always standing round.... (I must be excused these disgraceful details,
in order better to make him known).... On shaving days he used the same
vessel to lather his chin in. This, according to him, was a simplicity
of manner worthy of the ancient Romans, and which condemned the splendour
and superfluity of the others. When all was over, he dressed; then
played high at piquet or hombre; or rode out, if it was absolutely
necessary. All was now over for the day. He supped copiously with his
familiars: was a great eater, of wonderful gluttony; a connoisseur in no
dish, liked fish much, but the stale and stinking better than the good.
The meal prolonged itself in theses and disputes, and above all in praise
He would never have forgiven the slightest blame from any one. He wanted
to pass for the first captain of his age, and spoke with indecent
contempt of Prince Eugene and all the others. The faintest contradiction
would have been a crime. The soldier and the subaltern adored him for
his familiarity with them, and the licence he allowed in order to gain
their hearts; for all which he made up by excessive haughtiness towards
whoever was elevated by rank or birth.
On one occasion the Duke of Parma sent the bishop of that place to
negotiate some affair with him; but M. de Vendome took such disgusting
liberties in his presence, that the ecclesiastic, though without saying a
word, returned to Parma, and declared to his master that never would he
undertake such an embassy again. In his place another envoy was sent,
the famous Alberoni. He was the son of a gardener, who became an Abbe in
order to get on. He was full of buffoonery; and pleased M. de Parma as
might a valet who amused him, but he soon showed talent and capacity for
affairs. The Duke thought that the night-chair of M. de Vendome required
no other ambassador than Alberoni, who was accordingly sent to conclude
what the bishop had left undone. The Abbe determined to please, and was
not proud. M. de Vendome exhibited himself as before; and Alberoni, by
an infamous act of personal adoration, gained his heart. He was
thenceforth much with him, made cheese-soup and other odd messes for him;
and finally worked his way. It is true he was cudgelled by some one he
had offended, for a thousand paces, in sight of the whole army, but this
did not prevent his advancement. Vendome liked such an unscrupulous
flatterer; and yet as we have seen, he was not in want of praise. The
extraordinary favour shown him by the King--the credulity with which his
accounts of victories were received--showed to every one in what
direction their laudation was to be sent.
Such was the man whom the King and the whole Court hastened to caress and
flatter from the first moment of his arrival amongst us. There was a
terrible hubbub: boys, porters, and valets rallied round his postchaise
when he reached Marly. Scarcely had he ascended into his chamber, than
everybody, princes, bastards and all the rest, ran after him. The
ministers followed: so that in a short time nobody was left in the salon
but the ladies. M. de Beauvilliers was at Vaucresson. As for me, I
remained spectator, and did not go and adore this idol.
In a few minutes Vendome was sent for by the King and Monseigneur. As
soon as he could dress himself, surrounded as he was by such a crowd, he
went to the salon, carried by it rather than environed. Monseigneur
stopped the music that was playing, in order to embrace him. The King
left the cabinet where he was at work, and came out to meet him,
embracing him several times. Chamillart on the morrow gave a fete in his
honour at L'Etang, which lasted two days. Following his example,
Pontchartrain, Torcy, and the most distinguished lords of the Court, did
the same. People begged and entreated to give him fetes; people begged
and entreated to be invited to them. Never was triumph equal to his;
each step he took procured him a new one. It is not too much to say,
that everybody disappeared before him; Princes of the blood, ministers,
the grandest seigneurs, all appeared only to show how high he was above
them; even the King seemed only to remain King to elevate him more.
The people joined in this enthusiasm, both in Versailles and at Paris,
where he went under pretence of going to the opera. As he passed along
the streets crowds collected to cheer him; they billed him at the doors,
and every seat was taken in advance; people pushed and squeezed
everywhere, and the price of admission was doubled, as on the nights of
first performances. Vendome, who received all these homages with extreme
ease, was yet internally surprised by a folly so universal. He feared
that all this heat would not last out even the short stay he intended to
make. To keep himself more in reserve, he asked and obtained permission
to go to Anet, in the intervals between the journeys to Marly. All the
Court, however, followed him there, and the King was pleased rather than
otherwise, at seeing Versailles half deserted for Anet, actually asking
some if they had been, others, when they intended to go.
It was evident that every one had resolved to raise M. de Vendome to the
rank of a hero. He determined to profit by the resolution. If they made
him Mars, why should he not act as such? He claimed to be appointed
commander of the Marechals of France, and although the King refused him
this favour, he accorded him one which was but the stepping-stone to it.
M. de Vendome went away towards the middle of March to command the army
in Italy, with a letter signed by the King himself, promising him that if
a Marechal of France were sent to Italy, that Marechal was to take
commands from him. M. de Vendome was content, and determined to obtain
all he asked on a future day. The disposition of the armies had been
arranged just before. Tesse, for Catalonia and Spain; Berwick, for the
frontier of Portugal; Marechal Villars, for Alsace; Marsin, for the
Moselle; Marechal de Villeroy, for Flanders; and M. de Vendome, as I have
said, for Italy.
Now that I am speaking of the armies, let me give here an account of all
our military operations this year, so as to complete that subject at
M. de Vendome commenced his Italian campaign by a victory. He attacked
the troops of Prince Eugene upon the heights of Calcinato, drove them
before him, killed three thousand men, took twenty standards, ten pieces
of cannon, and eight thousand prisoners. It was a rout rather than a
combat. The enemy was much inferior in force to us, and was without its
general, Prince Eugene, he not having returned to open the campaign. He
came back, however, the day after this engagement, soon re-established
order among his troops, and M. de Vendome from that time, far from being
able to recommence the attack, was obliged to keep strictly on the
defensive while he remained in Italy. He did not fail to make the most
of his victory, which, however, to say the truth, led to nothing.
Our armies just now were, it must be admitted, in by no means a good
condition. The generals owed their promotion to favour and fantasy.
The King thought he gave them capacity when he gave them their patents.
Under M. de Turenne the army had afforded, as in a school, opportunities
for young officers to learn the art of warfare, and to qualify themselves
step by step to take command. They were promoted as they showed signs of
their capacity, and gave proof of their talent. Now, however, it was
very different. Promotion was granted according to length of service,
thus rendering all application and diligence unnecessary, except when M.
de Louvois suggested to the King such officers as he had private reasons
for being favourable to, and whose actions he could control. He
persuaded the King that it was he himself who ought to direct the armies
from his cabinet. The King, flattered by this, swallowed the bait, and
Louvois himself was thus enabled to govern in the name of the King, to
keep the generals in leading-strings, and to fetter their every movement.
In consequence of the way in which promotions were made, the greatest
ignorance prevailed amongst all grades of officers. None knew scarcely
anything more than mere routine duties, and sometimes not even so much as
that. The luxury which had inundated the army, too, where everybody
wished to live as delicately as at Paris, hindered the general officers
from associating with the other officers, and in consequence from knowing
and appreciating them. As a matter of course, there were no longer any
deliberations upon the state of affairs, in which the young might profit
by the counsels of the old, and the army profit by the discussions of
all. The young officers talked only of pay and women; the old, of forage
and equipages; the generals spent half their time in writing costly
despatches, often useless, and sending them away by couriers. The luxury
of the Court and city had spread into the army, so that delicacies were
carried there unknown formerly. Nothing was spoken of but hot dishes in
the marches and in the detachments; and the repasts that were carried to
the trenches, during sieges, were not only well served, but ices and
fruits were partaken of as at a fete, and a profusion of all sorts of
liqueurs. Expense ruined the officers, who vied with one another in
their endeavours to appear magnificent; and the things to be carried, the
work to be done, quadrupled the number of domestics and grooms, who often
starved. For a long time, people had complained of all this; even those
who were put to the expenses, which ruined them; but none dared to spend
less. At last, that is to say, in the spring of the following year, the
King made severe rules, with the object of bringing about a reform in
this particular. There is no country in Europe where there are so many
fine laws, or where the observance of them is of shorter duration. It
often happens, that in the first year all are infringed, and in the
second, forgotten. Such was the army at this time, and we soon had
abundant opportunities to note its incapacity to overcome the enemies
with whom we had to contend.
The King wished to open this campaign with two battles; one in Italy, the
other in Flanders. His desire was to some extent gratified in the former
case; but in the other he met with a sad and cruel disappointment. Since
the departure of Marechal de Villeroy for Flanders, the King had more
than once pressed him to engage the enemy. The Marechal, piqued with
these reiterated orders, which he considered as reflections upon his
courage, determined to risk anything in order to satisfy the desire of
the King. But the King did not wish this. At the same time that he
wished for a battle in Flanders, he wished to place Villeroy in a state
to fight it. He sent orders, therefore, to Marsin to take eighteen
battalions and twenty squadrons of his army, to proceed to the Moselle,
where he would find twenty others, and then to march with the whole into
Flanders, and join Marechal de Villeroy. At the same time he prohibited
the latter from doing anything until this reinforcement reached him.
Four couriers, one after the other, carried this prohibition to the
Marechal; but he had determined to give battle without assistance, and he
did so, with what result will be seen.
On the 24th of May he posted himself between the villages of Taviers and
Ramillies. He was superior in force to the Duke of Marlborough, who was
opposed to him, and this fact gave him confidence. Yet the position
which he had taken up was one which was well known to be bad. The late
M. de Luxembourg had declared it so, and had avoided it. M. de Villeroy
had been a witness of this, but it was his destiny and that of France
that he should forget it. Before he took up this position he announced
that it was his intention to do so to M. d'Orleans. M. d'Orleans said
publicly to all who came to listen, that if M. de Villeroy did so he
would be beaten. M. d'Orleans proved to be only too good a prophet.
Just as M. de Villeroy had taken up his position and made his
arrangements, the Elector arrived in hot haste from Brussels. It was
too late now to blame what had been done. There was nothing for it but
to complete what had been already begun, and await the result.
It was about two hours after midday when the enemy arrived within range,
and came under our fire from Ramillies. It forced them to halt until
their cannon could be brought into play, which was soon done. The
cannonade lasted a good hour. At the end of that time they marched to
Taviers, where a part of our army was posted, found but little
resistance, and made themselves masters of that place. From that moment
they brought their cavalry to bear. They perceived that there was a
marsh which covered our left, but which hindered our two wings from
joining. They made good use of the advantage this gave them. We were
taken in the rear at more than one point, and Taviers being no longer
able to assist us, Ramillies itself fell, after a prodigious fire and an
obstinate resistance. The Comte de Guiche at the head of the regiment of
Guards defended it for four hours, and performed prodigies, but in the
end he was obliged to give way. All this time our left had been utterly
useless with its nose in the marsh, no enemy in front of it, and with
strict orders not to budge from its position.
Our retreat commenced in good order, but soon the night came and threw us
into confusion. The defile of Judoigne became so gorged with baggage and
with the wrecks of the artillery we had been able to save, that
everything was taken from us there. Nevertheless, we arrived at Louvain,
and then not feeling in safety, passed the canal of Wilworde without
being very closely followed by the enemy.
We lost in this battle four thousand men, and many prisoners of rank, all
of whom were treated with much politeness by Marlborough. Brussels was
one of the first-fruits he gathered of this victory, which had such grave
and important results.
The King did not learn this disaster until Wednesday, the 26th of May,
at his waking. I was at Versailles. Never was such trouble or such
consternation. The worst was, that only the broad fact was known; for
six days we were without a courier to give us details. Even the post was
stopped. Days seemed like years in the ignorance of everybody as to
details, and in the inquietude of everybody for relatives and friends.
The King was forced to ask one and another for news; but nobody could
tell him any. Worn out at last by the silence, he determined to despatch
Chamillart to Flanders to ascertain the real state of affairs.
Chamillart accordingly left Versailles on Sunday, the 30th of May, to the
astonishment of all the Court, at seeing a man charged with the war and
the finance department sent on such an errand. He astonished no less the
army when he arrived at Courtrai, where it had stationed itself. Having
gained all the information he sought, Chamillart returned to Versailles
on Friday, the 4th of June, at about eight o'clock in the evening, and at
once went to the King, who was in the apartments of Madame de Maintenon.
It was known then that the army, after several hasty marches, finding
itself at Ghent, the Elector of Bavaria had insisted that it ought at
least to remain there. A council of war was held, the Marechal de
Villeroy, who was quite discouraged by the loss he had sustained, opposed
the advice of the Elector. Ghent was abandoned, so was the open country.
The army was separated and distributed here and there, under the command
of the general officers. In this way, with the exception of Namur, Mons,
and a very few other places, all the Spanish Low Countries were lost, and
a part of ours, even. Never was rapidity equal to this. The enemies
were as much astonished as we.
However tranquilly the King sustained in appearance this misfortune, he
felt it to the quick. He was so affected by what was said of his body-
guards, that he spoke of them himself with bitterness. Court warriors
testified in their favour, but persuaded nobody. But the King seized
these testimonies with joy, and sent word to the Guards that he was well
contended with them. Others, however, were not so easily satisfied.
This sad reverse and the discontent of the Elector made the King feel at
last that his favourites must give way to those better able to fill their
places. Villeroy, who, since his defeat, had quite lost his head, and
who, if he had been a general of the Empire, would have lost it in
reality in another manner, received several strong hints from the King
that he ought to give up his command. But he either could not or would
not understand them, and so tired out the King's patience, at length.
But he was informed in language which admitted of no misapprehension that
he must return. Even then, the King was so kindly disposed towards him,
that he said the Marechal had begged to be recalled with such obstinacy
that he could not refuse him. But M. de Villeroy was absurd enough to
reject this salve for his honour; which led to his disgrace. M. de
Vendome had orders to leave Italy, and succeed to the command in
Flanders, where the enemies had very promptly taken Ostend and Nieuport.
Meanwhile, as I have promised to relate, in a continuous narrative, all
our military operations of this year, let me say what passed in other
directions. The siege of Barcelona made no progress. Our engineers were
so slow and so ignorant, that they did next to nothing. They were so
venal, too, that they aided the enemy rather than us by their movements.
According to a new rule made by the King, whenever they changed the
position of their guns, they were entitled to a pecuniary recompense.
Accordingly, they passed all their time in uselessly changing about from
place to place, in order to receive the recompense which thus became due
Our fleet, too, hearing that a much superior naval force was coming to
the assistance of the enemy, and being, thanks to Pontchartrain, utterly
unable to meet it, was obliged to weigh anchor, and sailed away to
Toulon. The enemy's fleet arrived, and the besieged at once took new
courage. Tesse, who had joined the siege, saw at once that it was
useless to continue it. We had for some time depended upon the open sea
for supplies. Now that the English fleet had arrived, we could depend
upon the sea no longer. The King of Spain saw, at last, that there was
no help for it but to raise the siege.
It was raised accordingly on the night between the 10th and 11th of May,
after fourteen days' bombardment. We abandoned one hundred pieces of
artillery; one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of powder; thirty
thousand sacks of flour; twenty thousand sacks of sevade, a kind of oats;
and a great number of bombs, cannon-balls, and implements. As Catalonia
was in revolt, it was felt that retreat could not take place in that
direction; it was determined, therefore, to retire by the way of the
French frontier. For eight days, however, our troops were harassed in
flank and rear by Miquelets, who followed us from mountain to mountain.
It was not until the Duc de Noailles, whose father had done some service
to the chiefs of these Miquelets, had parleyed with them, and made terms
with them, that our troops were relieved from these cruel wasps. We
suffered much loss in our retreat, which, with the siege, cost us full
four thousand men. The army stopped at Roussillon, and the King of
Spain, escorted by two regiments of dragoons, made the best of his way to
Madrid. That city was itself in danger from the Portuguese, and, indeed,
fell into their hands soon after. The Queen, who, with her children, had
left it in time to avoid capture, felt matters to be in such extremity,
that she despatched all the jewels belonging to herself and her husband
to France. They were placed in the custody of the King. Among them was
that famous pear-shaped pearl called the Peregrine, which, for its
weight, its form, its size, and its water, is beyond all price and all
The King of Spain effected a junction with the army of Berwick, and both
set to work to reconquer the places the Portuguese had taken from them.
In this they were successful. The Portuguese, much harassed by the
people of Castille, were forced to abandon all they had gained; and the
King of Spain was enabled to enter Madrid towards the end of September,
where he was received with much rejoicing.
In Italy we experienced the most disastrous misfortunes. M. de Vendome,
having been called from the command to go into Flanders, M. d'Orleans,
after some deliberation, was appointed to take his place. M. d'Orleans
set out from Paris on the 1st of July, with twenty-eight horses and five
chaises, to arrive in three days at Lyons, and then to hasten on into
Italy. La Feuillade was besieging Turin. M. d'Orleans went to the
siege. He was magnificently received by La Feuillade, and shown all over
the works. He found everything defective. La Feuillade was very young,
and very inexperienced. I have already related an adventure of his, that
of his seizing upon the coffers of his uncle, and so forestalling his
inheritance. To recover from the disgrace this occurrence brought upon
him, he had married a daughter of Chamillart. Favoured by this minister,
but coldly looked upon by the King, he had succeeded in obtaining command
in the army, and had been appointed to conduct this siege. Inflated by
the importance of his position, and by the support of Chamillart, he
would listen to no advice from any one. M. d'Orleans attempted to bring
about some changes, and gave orders to that effect, but as soon as he was
gone, La Feuillade countermanded those orders and had everything his own
way. The siege accordingly went on with the same ill-success as before.
M. d'Orleans joined M. de Vendome on the 17th of July, upon the Mincio.
The pretended hero had just made some irreparable faults. He had allowed
Prince Eugene to pass the Po, nearly in front of him, and nobody knew
what had become of twelve of our battalions posted near the place where
this passage had been made. Prince Eugene had taken all the boats that
we had upon the river. We could not cross it, therefore, and follow the
enemy without making a bridge. Vendome feared lest his faults should be
perceived. He wished that his successor should remain charged with them.
M. d'Orleans, indeed, soon saw all the faults that M. de Vendome had
committed, and tried hard to induce the latter to aid him to repair them.
But M. de Vendome would not listen to his representations, and started
away almost immediately to take the command of the army in Flanders,
leaving M. d'Orleans to get out of the difficulty as he might.
M. d'Orleans, abandoned to himself (except when interfered with by
Marechal de Marsin, under whose tutelage he was), could do nothing. He
found as much opposition to his plans from Marsin as he had found from M.
de Vendome. Marsin wished to keep in the good graces of La Feuillade,
son-in-law of the all-powerful minister, and would not adopt the views of
M. d'Orleans. This latter had proposed to dispute the passage of the
Tanaro, a confluent of the Po, with the enemy, or compel them to accept
battle. An intercepted letter, in cypher, from Prince Eugene to the
Emperor, which fell into our hands, proved, subsequently, that this
course would have been the right one to adopt; but the proof came too
late; the decyphering table having been forgotten at Versailles!
M. d'Orleans had in the mean time been forced to lead his army to Turin,
to assist the besiegers, instead of waiting to stop the passage of the
troops that were destined for the aid of the besieged. He arrived at
Turin on the 28th of August, in the evening. La Feuillade, now under two
masters, grew, it might be imagined, more docile. But no! He allied
himself with Marsin (without whom M. d'Orleans could do nothing), and so
gained him over that they acted completely in accord. When M. d'Orleans
was convinced, soon after his arrival, that the enemy was approaching to
succour Turin, he suggested that they should be opposed as they attempted
the passage of the Dora.
But his advice was not listened to. He was displeased with everything.
He found that all the orders he had given had been disregarded. He found
the siege works bad, imperfect, very wet, and very ill-guarded. He tried
to remedy all these defects, but he was opposed at every step. A council
of war was held. M. d'Orleans stated his views, but all the officers
present, with one honourable exception, servilely chimed in with the
views of Marsin and La Feuillade, and things remained as they were.
M. d'Orleans, thereupon, protested that he washed his hands of all the
misfortunes that might happen in consequence of his advice being
neglected. He declared that as he was no longer master over anything,
it was not just that he should bear any part of the blame which would
entail to those in command. He asked, therefore, for his post-chaise,
and wished immediately to quit the army. La Feuillade and Marsin,
however, begged him to remain, and upon second thoughts he thought it
better to do so. The simple reason of all this opposition was, that La
Feuillade, being very young and very vain, wished to have all the honours
of the siege. He was afraid that if the counsel of M. d'Orleans
prevailed, some of that honour would be taken from him. This was the
real reason, and to this France owes the disastrous failure of the siege
After the council of war, M. d'Orleans ceased to take any share in the
command, walked about or stopped at home, like a man who had nothing to
do with what was passing around him. On the night of the 6th to the 7th
of September, he rose from his bed alarmed by information sent to him in
a letter, that Prince Eugene was about to attack the castle of Pianezza,
in order to cross the Dora, and so proceed to attack the besiegers. He
hastened at once to Marsin, showed him the letter, and recommended that
troops should at once be sent to dispute the passage of a brook that the
enemies had yet to cross, even supposing them to be masters of Pianezza.
Even as he was speaking, confirmation of the intelligence he had received
was brought by one of our officers. But it was resolved, in the Eternal
decrees, that France should be struck to the heart that day.
Marsin would listen to none of the arguments of M. d'Orleans. He
maintained that it would be unsafe to leave the lines; that the news was
false; that Prince Eugene could not possibly arrive so promptly; he would
give no orders; and he counselled M. d'Orleans to go back to bed. The
Prince, more piqued and more disgusted than ever, retired to his quarters
fully resolved to abandon everything to the blind and deaf, who would
neither see nor hear.
Soon after entering his chamber the news spread from all parts of the
arrival of Prince Eugene. He did not stir. Some general officers came,
and forced him to mount his horse. He went forth negligently at a
walking pace. What had taken place during the previous days had made so
much noise that even the common soldiers were ashamed of it. They liked
him, and murmured because he would no longer command them. One of them
called him by his name, and asked him if he refused them his sword. This
question did more than all that the general officers had been able to do.
M. d'Orleans replied to the soldier, that he would not refuse to serve
them, and at once resolved to lend all his aid to Marsin and La
But it was no longer possible to leave the lines. The enemy was in
sight, and advanced so diligently, that there was no time to make
arrangements. Marsin, more dead than alive, was incapable of giving any
order or any advice. But La Feuillade still persevered in his obstinacy.
He disputed the orders of the Duc d'Orleans, and prevented their
execution, possessed by I know not what demon.
The attack was commenced about ten o'clock in the morning, was pushed
with incredible vigour, and sustained, at first, in the same manner.
Prince Eugene poured his troops into those places which the smallness of
our forces had compelled us to leave open. Marsin, towards the middle of
the battle, received a wound which incapacitated him from further
service, end was taken prisoner immediately after. Le Feuillade ran
about like a madman, tearing his hair, and incapable of giving any order.
The Duc d'Orleans preserved his coolness, and did wonders to save the
day. Finding our men beginning to waver, he called the officers by their
names, aroused the soldiers by his voice, and himself led the squadrons
and battalions to the charge. Vanquished at last by pain, and weakened
by the blood he had lost, he was constrained to retire a little, to have
his wounds dressed. He scarcely gave himself time for this, however, but
returned at once where the fire was hottest. Three times the enemy had
been repulsed and their guns spiked by one of our officers, Le Guerchois,
with his brigade of the old marine, when, enfeebled by the losses he had
sustained, he called upon a neighbouring brigade to advance with him to
oppose a number of fresh battalions the enemy had sent against him. This
brigade and its brigadier refused bluntly to aid him. It was positively
known afterwards, that had Le Guerchois sustained this fourth charge,
Prince Eugene would have retreated.
This was the last moment of the little order that there had been at this
battle. All that followed was only trouble, confusion, disorder, flight,
discomfiture. The most terrible thing is, that the general officers,
with but few exceptions, more intent upon their equipage and upon what
they had saved by pillage, added to the confusion instead of diminishing
it, and were worse than useless.
M. d'Orleans, convinced at last that it was impossible to re-establish
the day, thought only how to retire as advantageously as possible. He
withdrew his light artillery, his ammunition, everything that was at the
siege, even at the most advanced of its works, and attended to everything
with a presence of mind that allowed nothing to escape him. Then,
gathering round him all the officers he could collect, he explained to
them that nothing but retreat was open to them, and that the road to
Italy was that which they ought to pursue. By this means they would
leave the victorious army of the enemy in a country entirely ruined and
desolate, and hinder it from returning into Italy, where the army of the
King, on the contrary, would have abundance, and where it would cut off
all succour from the others.
This proposition dismayed to the last degree our officers, who hoped at
least to reap the fruit of this disaster by returning to France with the
money with which they were gorged. La Feuillade opposed it with so much
impatience, that the Prince, exasperated by an effrontery so sustained,
told him to hold his peace and let others speak. Others did speak, but
only one was for following the counsel of M. d'Orleans. Feeling himself
now, however, the master, he stopped all further discussion, and gave
orders that the retreat to Italy should commence. This was all he could
do. His body and his brain were equally exhausted. After having waited
some little time, he was compelled to throw himself into a post-chaise,
and in that to continue the journey.
The officers obeyed his orders most unwillingly. They murmured amongst
each other so loudly that the Duc d'Orleans, justly irritated by so much
opposition to his will, made them hold their peace. The retreat
continued. But it was decreed that the spirit of error and vertigo
should ruin us and save the allies. As the army was about to cross the
bridge over the Ticino, and march into Italy, information was brought to
M. d'Orleans, that the enemy occupied the roads by which it was
indispensable to pass. M. d'Orleans, not believing this intelligence,
persisted in going forward. Our officers, thus foiled, for it was known
afterwards that the story was their invention, and that the passes were
entirely free, hit upon another expedient. They declared there were no
more provisions or ammunition, and that it was accordingly impossible to
go into Italy. M. d'Orleans, worn out by so much criminal disobedience,
and weakened by his wound, could hold out no longer. He threw himself
back in the chaise, and said they might go where they would. The army
therefore turned about, and directed itself towards Pignerol, losing many
equipages from our rear-guard during the night in the mountains, although
that rear-guard was protected by Albergotti, and was not annoyed by the
The joy of the enemy at their success was unbounded. They could scarcely
believe in it. Their army was just at its last gasp. They had not more
than four days' supply of powder left in the place. After the victory,
M. de Savoie and Prince Eugene lost no time in idle rejoicings. They
thought only how to profit by a success so unheard of and so unexpected.
They retook rapidly all the places in Piedmont and Lombardy that we
occupied, and we had no power to prevent them.
Never battle cost fewer soldiers than that of Turin; never was retreat
more undisturbed than ours; yet never were results more frightful or more
rapid. Ramillies, with a light loss, cost the Spanish Low Countries and
1. /Ivrel/Core Rules/Addendums/Monster Addendum 1 [Draconians].doc
|Положение о Чемпионате и первенстве России по полумарафону. XXXIII международному полумарафону на призы Олимпийского Чемпиона|
Чемпионат и первенство России: 21. 1 км муж и жен. 1982 г р и старше; 1983-85 г р. (молодежь)
|Contents. Chapter I|
|Chapter IV the article||Chapter 9 a few Questions|
|Chapter 5 "Who are these aliens?"||Chapter cxiii|
|Chapter xcvii||Chapter LXXXVIII|