Death of D'Avaux.--A Quarrel about a Window.--Louvois and the King.--
Anecdote of Boisseuil.--Madame de Maintenon and M. de Beauvilliers.--
Harcourt Proposed for the Council.--His Disappointment.--Death of M. le
Prince.--His Character.--Treatment of His Wife.--His Love Adventures.--
His Madness.--A Confessor Brought.--Nobody Regrets Him.
Progress of the War.--Simplicity of Chamillart.--The Imperialists and the
Pope.--Spanish Affairs.--Duc d'Orleans and Madame des Ursins.--Arrest of
Flotte in Spain.--Discovery of the Intrigues of the Duc d'Orleans.--Cabal
against Him.--His Disgrace and Its Consequences.
Danger of Chamillart.--Witticism of D'Harcourt.--Faults of Chamillart.--
Court Intrigues against Him.--Behaviour of the Courtiers.--Influence of
Madame de Maintenon.--Dignified Fall of Chamillart.--He is Succeeded by
Voysin.--First Experience of the New Minister.--The Campaign in
Flanders.--Battle of Malplaquet.
Disgrace of the Duc d'Orleans.--I Endeavor to Separate Him from Madame
d'Argenton.--Extraordinary Reports.--My Various Colloquies with Him.--The
Separation.--Conduct of Madame d'Argenton.--Death and Character of M. le
Duc.--The After-suppers of the King.
Proposed Marriage of Mademoiselle.--My Intrigues to Bring It About.--The
Duchesse de Bourgogne and Other Allies.--The Attack Begun.--Progress of
the Intrigue.--Economy at Marly.--The Marriage Agreed Upon.--Scene at
Saint-Cloud.--Horrible Reports.--The Marriage.--Madame de Saint-Simon.--
Strange Character of the Duchesse de Berry
Birth of Louis XV.--The Marechale de la Meilleraye.--Saint-Ruth's
Cudgel.--The Cardinal de Bouillon's Desertion from France.--Anecdotes of
Imprudence of Villars.--The Danger of Truthfulness.--Military Mistakes.--
The Fortunes of Berwick.--The Son of James.--Berwick's Report on the
Army.--Imprudent Saying of Villars.--"The Good Little Fellow" in a
Scrape.--What Happens to Him.
Duchesse de Berry Drunk.--Operations in Spain.--Vendome Demanded by
Spain.--His Affront by the Duchesse de Bourgogne.--His Arrival.--
Staremberg and Stanhope.--The Flag of Spain Leaves Madrid.--Entry of the
Archduke.--Enthusiasm of the Spaniards--The King Returns.--Strategy, of
Staremberg.--Affair of Brighuega.--Battle of Villavciosa.--Its
Consequences to Vendome and to Spain.
The death of D'Avaux, who had formerly been our ambassador in Holland,
occurred in the early part of this year (1709). D'Avaux was one of the
first to hear of the project of William of Orange upon England, when that
project was still only in embryo, and kept profoundly secret. He
apprised the King (Louis XIV.) of it, but was laughed at. Barillon, then
our ambassador in England, was listened to in preference. He, deceived
by Sunderland and the other perfidious ministers of James II.; assured
our Court that D'Avaux's reports were mere chimeras. It was not until it
was impossible any longer to doubt that credit was given to them. The
steps that we then took, instead of disconcerting all the measures of the
conspirators, as we could have done, did not interfere with the working
out of any one of their plans. All liberty was left, in fact, to William
to carry out his scheme. The anecdote which explains how this happened
is so curious, that it deserves to be mentioned here.
Louvois, who was then Minister of War, was also superintendent of the
buildings. The King, who liked building, and who had cast off all his
mistresses, had pulled down the little porcelain Trianon he had made for
Madame de Montespan, and was rebuilding it in the form it still retains.
One day he perceived, for his glance was most searching, that one window
was a trifle narrower than the others. He showed it to Louvois, in order
that it might be altered, which, as it was not then finished, was easy to
do. Louvois sustained that the window was all right. The King insisted
then, and on the morrow also, but Louvois, pigheaded and inflated with
his authority, would not yield.
The next day the King saw Le Notre in the gallery. Although his trade
was gardens rather than houses, the King did not fail to consult him upon
the latter. He asked him if he had been to Trianon. Le Notre replied
that he had not. The King ordered him to go. On the morrow he saw Le
Notre again; same question, same answer. The King comprehended the
reason of this, and a little annoyed, commanded him to be there that
afternoon at a given time. Le Notre did not dare to disobey this time.
The King arrived, and Louvois being present, they returned to the subject
of the window, which Louvois obstinately said was as broad as the rest.
The King wished Le Notre to measure it, for he knew that, upright and
true, he would openly say what he found. Louvois, piqued, grew angry.
The King, who was not less so, allowed him to say his say. Le Notre,
meanwhile, did not stir. At last, the King made him go, Louvois still
grumbling, and maintaining his assertion with audacity and little
measure. Le Notre measured the window, and said that the King was right
by several inches. Louvois still wished to argue, but the King silenced
him, and commanded him to see that the window was altered at once,
contrary to custom abusing him most harshly.
What annoyed Louvois most was, that this scene passed not only before all
the officers of the buildings, but in presence of all who followed the
King in his promenades, nobles, courtiers, officers of the guard, and
others, even all the rolete. The dressing given to Louvois was smart and
long, mixed with reflections upon the fault of this window, which, not
noticed so soon, might have spoiled all the facade, and compelled it to
Louvois, who was not accustomed to be thus treated, returned home in
fury, and like a man in despair. His familiars were frightened, and in
their disquietude angled to learn what had happened. At last he told
them, said he was lost, and that for a few inches the King forgot all his
services, which had led to so many conquests; he declared that henceforth
he would leave the trowel to the King, bring about a war, and so arrange
matters that the King should have good need of him!
He soon kept his word. He caused a war to grow out of the affair of the
double election of Cologne, of the Prince of Bavaria, and of the Cardinal
of Furstenberg; he confirmed it in carrying the flames into the
Palatinate, and in leaving, as I have said, all liberty to the project
upon England; he put the finishing touch to his work by forcing the Duke
of Savoy into the arms of his enemies, and making him become, by the
position of his country, our enemy, the most difficult and the most
ruinous. All that I have here related was clearly brought to light in
Boisseuil died shortly after D'Avaux. He was a tall, big man, warm and
violent, a great gambler, bad tempered,--who often treated M. le Grand
and Madame d'Armagnac, great people as they were, so that the company
were ashamed,--and who swore in the saloon of Marly as if he had been in
a tap-room. He was feared; and he said to women whatever came uppermost
when the fury of a cut-throat seized him. During a journey the King and
Court made to Nancy, Boisseuil one evening sat down to play in the house
of one of the courtiers. A player happened to be there who played very
high. Boisseuil lost a good deal, and was very angry. He thought he
perceived that this gentleman, who was only permitted on account of his
play, was cheating, and made such good use of his eyes that he soon found
this was the case, and all on a sudden stretched across the table and
seized the gambler's hand, which he held upon the table, with the cards
he was going to deal. The gentleman, very much astonished, wished to
withdraw his hand, and was angry. Boisseuil, stronger than he, said that
he was a rogue, and that the company should see it, and immediately
shaking his hand with fury put in evidence his deceit. The player,
confounded, rose and went away. The game went on, and lasted long into
the night. When finished, Boisseuil went away. As he was leaving the
door he found a man stuck against the wall--it was the player--who called
him to account for the insult he had received. Boisseuil replied that he
should give him no satisfaction, and that he was a rogue.
"That may be," said the player, "but I don't like to be told so."
They went away directly and fought. Boisseuil received two wounds, from
one of which he was like to die. The other escaped without injury.
I have said, that after the affair of M. de Cambrai, Madame de Maintenon
had taken a rooted dislike to M. de Beauvilliers. She had become
reconciled to him in appearance during the time that Monseigneur de
Bourgogne was a victim to the calumnies of M. de Vendome, because she had
need of him. Now that Monseigneur de Bourgogne was brought back to
favour, and M. de Vendome was disgraced, her antipathy for M, de
Beauvilliers burst out anew, and she set her wits to work to get rid of
him from the Council of State, of which he was a member. The witch
wished to introduce her favourite Harcourt there in his place, and worked
so well to bring about this result that the King promised he should be
His word given, or rather snatched from him, the King was embarrassed as
to how, to keep it, for he did not wish openly to proclaim Harcourt
minister. It was agreed, therefore, that at the next Council Harcourt
should be present, as though by accident, in the King's ante-chamber;
that, Spanish matters being brought up, the King should propose to
consult Harcourt, and immediately after should direct search to be made
far him, to see if, by chance, he was close at hand; that upon finding
him, he should be conducted to the Council, made to enter and seat
himself, and ever afterwards be regarded as a Minister of State.
This arrangement was kept extremely secret, according to the express
commands of the King: I knew it, however, just before it was to be
executed, and I saw at once that the day of Harcourt's entry into the
Council would be the day of M. de Beauvilliers' disgrace. I sent,
therefore, at once for M. de Beauvilliers, begging him to come to my
house immediately, and that I would then tell him why I could not come to
him. Without great precaution everything becomes known at Court.
In less than half an hour M. de Beauvilliers arrived, tolerably disturbed
at my message. I asked him if he knew anything, and I turned him about,
less to pump him than to make him ashamed of his ignorance, and to
persuade him the better afterwards to do what I wished. When I had well
trotted out his ignorance, I apprised him of what I had just learnt. He
was astounded; he so little expected it! I had not much trouble to
persuade him that, although his expulsion might not yet be determined on,
the intrusion of Harcourt must pave the way for it. He admitted to me
that for some days he had found, the King cold and embarrassed with him,
but that he had paid little attention to the circumstance, the reason of
which was now clear. There was no time to lose. In twenty-four hours
all would be over. I therefore took the liberty in the first instance of
scolding him for his profound ignorance of what passed at the Court, and
was bold enough to say to him that he had only to thank himself for the
situation he found himself in. He let me say to the end without growing
angry, then smiled, and said, "Well! what do you think I ought to do?"
That was just what I wanted. I replied that there was only one course
open to him, and that was to have an interview with the King early the
next morning; to say to him, that he had been informed Harcourt was about
to enter the Council; that he thought the affairs of State would suffer
rather than otherwise if Harcourt did so; and finally, to allude to the
change that had taken place in the King's manner towards him lately, and
to say, with all respect, affection, and submission, that he was equally
ready to continue serving the King or to give up his appointments, as his
Majesty might desire.
M. de Beauvilliers took pleasure in listening to me. He embraced me
closely, and promised to follow the course I had marked out.
The next morning I went straight to him, and learned that he had
perfectly succeeded. He had spoken exactly as I had suggested. The King
appeared astonished and piqued that the secret of Harcourt's entry into
the Council was discovered. He would not hear a word as to resignation
of office on the part of M. de Beauvilliers, and appeared more satisfied
with him than ever. Whether, without this interview, he would have been
lost, I know not, but by the coldness and embarrassment of the King
before that interview, and during the first part of it, I am nearly
persuaded that he would. M. de Beauvilliers embraced me again very
tenderly--more than once.
As for Harcourt, sure of his good fortune, and scarcely able to contain
his joy, he arrived at the meeting place. Time ran on. During the
Council there are only the most subaltern people in the antechambers and
a few courtiers who pass that way to go from one wing to another. Each
of these subalterns eagerly asked M. d'Harcourt what he wanted, if he
wished for anything, and importuned him strongly. He was obliged to
remain there, although he had no pretext. He went and came, limping with
his stick, not knowing what to reply to the passers-by, or the attendants
by whom he was remarked. At last, after waiting long, he returned as he
came, much disturbed at not having been called. He sent word so to
Madame de Maintenon, who, in her turn, was as much disturbed, the King
not having said a word to her, and she not having dared to say a word to
him. She consoled Harcourt, hoping that at the next Council he would be
called. At her wish he waited again, as before, during another Council,
but with as little success. He was very much annoyed, comprehending that
the affair had fallen through.
Madame de Maintenon did not, however, like to be defeated in this way.
After waiting some time she spoke to the King, reminding him what he had
promised to do. The King replied in confusion that he had thought better
of it; that Harcourt was on bad terms with all the Ministers, and might,
if admitted to the Council, cause them much embarrassment; he preferred,
therefore, things to remain as they were. This was said in a manner that
admitted of no reply.
Madame de Maintenon felt herself beaten; Harcourt was in despair. M. de
Beauvilliers was quite reestablished in the favour of the King. I
pretended to have known nothing of this affair, and innocent asked many
questions about it when all was over. I was happy to the last degree
that everything had turned out so well.
M. le Prince, who for more than two years had not appeared at the Court,
died at Paris a little after midnight on the night between Easter Sunday
and Monday, the last of March and first of April, and in his seventy-
sixth year. No man had ever more ability of all kinds, extending even to
the arts and mechanics more valour, and, when it pleased him, more
discernment, grace, politeness, and nobility. But then no man had ever
before so many useless talents, so much genius of no avail, or an
imagination so calculated to be a bugbear to itself and a plague to
others. Abjectly and vilely servile even to lackeys, he scrupled not to
use the lowest and paltriest means to gain his ends. Unnatural son,
cruel father, terrible husband, detestable master, pernicious neighbour;
without friendship, without friends--incapable of having any jealous,
suspicious, ever restless, full of slyness and artifices to discover and
to scrutinise all, (in which he was unceasingly occupied, aided by an
extreme vivacity and a surprising penetration,) choleric and headstrong
to excess even for trifles, difficult of access, never in accord with
himself, and keeping all around him in a tremble; to conclude,
impetuosity and avarice were his masters, which monopolised him always.
With all this he was a man difficult to be proof against when he put in
play the pleasing qualities he possessed.
Madame la Princesse, his wife, was his continual victim. She was
disgustingly ugly, virtuous, and foolish, a little humpbacked, and stunk
like a skunk, even from a distance. All these things did not hinder M.
le Prince from being jealous of her even to fury up to the very last.
The piety, the indefatigable attention of Madame la Princesse, her
sweetness, her novice-like submission, could not guarantee her from
frequent injuries, or from kicks, and blows with the fist, which were not
rare. She was not mistress even of the most trifling things; she did not
dare to propose or ask anything. He made her set out from one place to
another the moment the fancy took him. Often when seated in their coach
he made her descend, or return from the end of the street, then
recommence the journey after dinner, or the next day. This see-sawing
lasted once fifteen days running, before a trip to Fontainebleau. At
other times he sent for her from church, made her quit high mass, and
sometimes sent for her the moment she was going to receive the sacrament;
she was obliged to return at once and put off her communion to another
occasion. It was not that he wanted her, but it was merely to gratify
his whim that he thus troubled her.
He was always of, uncertain habits, and had four dinners ready for him
every day; one at Paris, one at Ecouen, one at Chantilly, and one where
the Court was. But the expense of this arrangement was not great; he
dined on soup, and the half of a fowl roasted upon a crust of bread; the
other half serving for the next day. He rarely invited anybody to
dinner, but when he did, no man could be more polite or attentive to his
Formerly he had been in love with several ladies of the Court; then,
nothing cost too much. He was grace, magnificence, gallantry in person--
a Jupiter transformed into a shower of gold. Now he disguised himself as
a lackey, another time as a female broker in articles for the toilette;
and now in another fashion. He was the most ingenious man in the world.
He once gave a grand fete solely for the purpose of retarding the journey
into Italy of a lady with whom he was enamoured, with whom he was on good
terms, and whose husband he amused by making verses. He hired all the
houses on one side of a street near Saint Sulpice, furnished them, and
pierced the connecting walls, in order to be able thus to reach the place
of rendezvous without being suspected.
Jealous and cruel to his mistresses, he had, amongst others, the Marquise
de Richelieu; whom I name, because she is not worth the trouble of being
silent upon. He was hopelessly smitten and spent millions upon her and
to learn her movements. He knew that the Comte de Roucy shared her
favours (it was for her that sagacious Count proposed to put straw before
1. /Ivrel/Core Rules/Addendums/Monster Addendum 1 [Draconians].doc
|Chapter IV the article||Contents. Chapter I|
|Chapter 9 a few Questions||Chapter 5 "Who are these aliens?"|
|Chapter cxiii||Chapter xcvii|
|Chapter LXXXVIII||Chapter LXXVIII|