External Life of Louis XIV.--At the Army.--Etiquette of the King's
Table.--Court Manners and Customs.--The Rising of the King.--Morning
Occupations.--Secret Amours.--Going to Mass.--Councils.--Thursdays.--
Fridays.--Ceremony of the King's Dinner.--The King's Brother.--After
Dinner.--The Drive.--Walks at Marly and Elsewhere.--Stag--hunting.--Play-
tables.--Lotteries.--Visits to Madame de Maintenon.--Supper.--The King
Retires to Rest.--Medicine Days.--Kings Religious Observances.--Fervency
in Lent.--At Mass.--Costume.--Politeness of the King for the Court of
Saint-Germain.--Feelings of the Court at His Death.--Relief of Madame de
Maintenon.--Of the Duchesse d'Orleans.--Of the Court Generally.--Joy of
Paris and the Whole of France.--Decency of Foreigners.--Burial of the
Surprise of M. d'Orleans at the King's Death.--My Interview with Him.--
Dispute about Hats.--M. du Maine at the Parliament.--His Reception.--
My Protest.--The King's Will.--Its Contents and Reception.--Speech of the
Duc d'Orleans.--Its Effect.--His Speech on the Codicil.--Violent
Discussion.--Curious Scene.--Interruption for Dinner.--Return to the
Parliament.--Abrogation of the Codicil.--New Scheme of Government.--
The Regent Visits Madame de Maintenon.--The Establishment of Saint-Cyr.--
The Regent's Liberality to Madame de Maintenon.
The Young King's Cold.--'Lettres des Cachet' Revived.--A Melancholy
Story.--A Loan from Crosat.--Retrenchments.--Unpaid Ambassadors.--Council
of the Regency.--Influence of Lord Stair.--The Pretender.--His Departure
from Bar.--Colonel Douglas.--The Pursuit.--Adventure at Nonancourt.--Its
Upshot.--Madame l'Hospital.--Ingratitude of the Pretender.
Behaviour of the Duchesse de Berry.--Her Arrogance Checked by Public
Opinion.--Walls up the Luxembourg Garden.--La Muette.--Her Strange Amour
with Rion.--Extraordinary Details.--The Duchess at the Carmelites.--
Weakness of the Regent.--His Daily Round of Life.--His Suppers.--
How He Squandered His Time.--His Impenetrability.--Scandal of His Life.--
Public Balls at the Opera.
First Appearance of Law.--His Banking Project Supported by the Regent.--
Discussed by the Regent with Me.--Approved by the Council and Registered.
--My Interviews with Law.--His Reasons for Seeking My Friendship.--
Arouet de Voltaire.
Rise of Alberoni.--Intimacy of France and England.--Gibraltar Proposed to
be Given Up.--Louville the Agent.--His Departure.--Arrives at Madrid.--
Alarm of Alberoni.--His Audacious Intrigues.--Louville in the Bath.--
His Attempts to See the King.--Defeated.--Driven out of Spain.--Impudence
of Alberoni.--Treaty between France and England.--Stipulation with
Reference to the Pretender.
The Lieutenant of Police.--Jealousy of Parliament.--Arrest of Pomereu
Resolved On.--His Imprisonment and Sudden Release.--Proposed Destruction
of Marly.--How I Prevented It.--Sale of the Furniture.--I Obtain the
'Grandes Entrees'.--Their Importance and Nature.--Afterwards Lavished
Indiscriminately.--Adventure of the Diamond called "The Regent."--Bought
for the Crown of France.
Death of the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres.--Cavoye and His Wife.--Peter the
Great.--His Visit to France.--Enmity to England.--Its Cause.--Kourakin,
the Russian Ambassador.--The Czar Studies Rome.--Makes Himself the Head
of Religion.--New Desires for Rome--Ultimately Suppressed.--Preparations
to Receive the Czar at Paris.--His Arrival at Dunkerque.--At Beaumont.--
Dislikes the Fine Quarters Provided for Him.--His Singular Manners, and
Those of His Suite.
Personal Appearance of the Czar.--His Meals.--Invited by the Regent.--
His Interview with the King--He Returns the Visit.--Excursion in Paris.--
Visits Madame.--Drinks Beer at the Opera.--At the Invalides.--Meudon.--
Issy.--The Tuileries.--Versailles.--Hunt at Fontainebleau.--Saint--Cyr.--
Extraordinary Interview with Madame de Maintenon.--My Meeting with the
Czar at D'Antin's.--The Ladies Crowd to See Him.--Interchange of
Presents.--A Review.--Party Visits.--Desire of the Czar to Be United to
Courson in Languedoc.--Complaints of Perigueux.--Deputies to Paris.--
Disunion at the Council.--Intrigues of the Duc de Noailles.--Scene.--
I Support the Perigueux People.--Triumph.--My Quarrel with Noailles.--
The Order of the Pavilion.
After having thus described with truth and the most exact fidelity all
that has come to my knowledge through my own experience, or others
qualified to speak of Louis XIV. during the last twenty-two years of his
life: and after having shown him such as he was, without prejudice
(although I have permitted myself to use the arguments naturally
resulting from things), nothing remains but to describe the outside life
of this monarch, during my residence at the Court.
However insipid and perhaps superfluous details so well known may appear
after what has been already given, lessons will be found therein for
kings who may wish to make themselves respected, and who may wish to
respect themselves. What determines me still more is, that details
wearying, nay annoying, to instructed readers, who had been witnesses of
what I relate, soon escape the knowledge of posterity; and that
experience shows us how much we regret that no one takes upon himself a
labour, in his own time so ungrateful, but in future years so
interesting, and by which princes, who have made quite as much stir as
the one in question, are characterise. Although it may be difficult to
steer clear of repetitions, I will do my best to avoid them.
I will not speak much of the King's manner of living when with the army.
His hours were determined by what was to be done, though he held his
councils regularly; I will simply say, that morning and evening he ate
with people privileged to have that honour. When any one wished to claim
it, the first gentleman of the chamber on duty was appealed to. He gave
the answer, and if favourable you presented yourself the next day to the
King, who said to you, "Monsieur, seat yourself at table." That being
done, all was done. Ever afterwards you were at liberty to take a place
at the King's table, but with discretion. The number of the persons from
whom a choice was made was, however, very limited. Even very high
military rank did not suffice. M. de Vauban, at the siege of Namur, was
overwhelmed by the distinction. The King did the same honour at Namur to
the Abbe de Grancey, who exposed himself everywhere to confess the
wounded and encourage the troops. No other Abbe was ever so
distinguished. All the clergy were excluded save the cardinals, and the
bishops, piers, or the ecclesiastics who held the rank of foreign
At these repasts everybody was covered; it would have been a want of
respect, of which you would have been immediately informed, if you had
not kept your hat on your head. The King alone was uncovered. When the
King wished to speak to you, or you had occasion to speak to him, you
uncovered. You uncovered, also, when Monseigneur or Monsieur spoke to
you, or you to them. For Princes of the blood you merely put your hand
to your hat. The King alone had an armchair. All the rest of the
company, Monseigneur included, had seats, with backs of black morocco
leather, which could be folded up to be carried, and which were called
"parrots." Except at the army, the King never ate with any man, under
whatever circumstances; not even with the Princes of the Blood, save
sometimes at their wedding feasts.
Let us return now to the Court.
At eight o'clock the chief valet de chambre on duty, who alone had slept
in the royal chamber, and who had dressed himself, awoke the King. The
chief physician, the chief surgeon, and the nurse (as long as she lived),
entered at the same time; the latter kissed the King; the others rubbed
and often changed his shirt, because he was in the habit of sweating a
great deal. At the quarter, the grand chamberlain was called (or, in his
absence, the first gentleman of the chamber), and those who had what was
called the 'grandes entrees'. The chamberlain (or chief gentleman) drew
back the curtains which had been closed again; and presented the holy-
water from the vase, at the head of the bed. These gentlemen stayed but
a moment, and that was the time to speak to the King, if any one had
anything to ask of him; in which case the rest stood aside. When,
contrary to custom, nobody had ought to say, they were there but for a
few moments. He who had opened the curtains and presented the holy-
water, presented also a prayer-book. Then all passed into the cabinet of
the council. A very short religious service being over, the King called,
they re-entered, The same officer gave him his dressing-gown; immediately
after, other privileged courtiers entered, and then everybody, in time to
find the King putting on his shoes and stockings, for he did almost
everything himself and with address and grace. Every other day we saw
him shave himself; and he had a little short wig in which he always
appeared, even in bed, and on medicine days. He often spoke of the
chase, and sometimes said a-word to somebody. No toilette table was near
him; he had simply a mirror held before him.
As soon as he was dressed, he prayed to God, at the side of his bed,
where all the clergy present knelt, the cardinals without cushions, all
the laity remaining standing; and the captain of the guards came to the
balustrade during the prayer, after which the King passed into his
He found there, or was followed by all who had the entree, a very
numerous company, for it included everybody in any office. He gave
orders to each for the day; thus within a half a quarter of an hour it
was known what he meant to do; and then all this crowd left directly.
The bastards, a few favourites; and the valets alone were left. It was
then a good opportunity for talking with the King; for example, about
plans of gardens and buildings; and conversation lasted more or less
according to the person engaged in it.
All the Court meantime waited for the King in the gallery, the captain of
the guard being alone in the chamber seated at the door of the cabinet.
At morning the Court awaited in the saloon; at Trianon in the front rooms
as at Meudon; at Fontainebleau in the chamber and ante-chamber. During
this pause the King gave audiences when he wished to accord any; spoke
with whoever he might wish to speak secretly to, and gave secret
interviews to foreign ministers in presence of Torcy. They were called
"secret" simply to distinguish them from the uncommon ones by the
The King went to mass, where his musicians always sang an anthem. He did
not go below--except on grand fetes or at ceremonies. Whilst he was
going to and returning from mass, everybody spoke to him who wished,
after apprising the captain of the guard, if they were not distinguished;
and he came and went by the door of the cabinet into the gallery. During
the mass the ministers assembled in the King's chamber, where
distinguished people could go and speak or chat with them. The King
amused himself a little upon returning from mass and asked almost
immediately for the council. Then the morning was finished.
On Sunday, and often on Monday, there was a council of state; on Tuesday
a finance council; on Wednesday council of state; on Saturday finance
council: rarely were two held in one day or any on Thursday or Friday.
Once or twice a month there was a council of despatches on Monday
morning; but the order that the Secretaries of State took every morning
between the King's rising and his mass, much abridged this kind of
business. All the ministers were seated accordingly to rank, except at
the council of despatches, where all stood except the sons of France, the
Chancellor, and the Duc de Beauvilliers.
Thursday morning was almost always blank. It was the day for audiences
that the King wished to give--often unknown to any--back-stair audiences.
It was also the grand day taken advantage of by the bastards, the valets,
etc., because the King had nothing to do. On Friday after the mass the
King was with his confessor, and the length of their audiences was
limited by nothing, and might last until dinner. At Fontainebleau on the
mornings when there was no council, the King usually passed from mass to
Madame de Maintenon's, and so at Trianon and Marly. It was the time for
their tete-a-tete without interruption. Often on the days when there was
no council the dinner hour was advanced, more or less for the chase or
the promenade. The ordinary hour was one o'clock; if the council still
lasted, then the dinner waited and nothing was said to the King.
The dinner was always 'au petit couvert', that is, the King ate by
himself in his chamber upon a square table in front of the middle window.
It was more or less abundant, for he ordered in the morning whether it
was to be "a little," or "very little" service. But even at this last,
there were always many dishes, and three courses without counting the
fruit. The dinner being ready, the principal courtiers entered; then all
who were known; and the gentleman of the chamber on duty informed the
I have seen, but very rarely, Monseigneur and his sons standing at their
dinners, the King not offering them a seat. I have continually seen
there the Princes of the blood and the cardinals. I have often seen
there also Monsieur, either on arriving from Saint-Cloud to see the King,
or arriving from the council of despatches (the only one he entered),
give the King his napkin and remain standing. A little while afterwards,
the King, seeing that he did not go away, asked him if he would not sit
down; he bowed, and the King ordered a seat to be brought for him. A
stool was put behind him. Some moments after the King said, "Nay then,
sit down, my brother." Monsieur bowed and seated himself until the end
of the dinner, when he presented the napkin.
At other times when he came from Saint-Cloud, the King, on arriving at
the table, asked for a plate for Monsieur, or asked him if he would dine.
If he refused, he went away a moment after, and there was no mention of a
seat; if he accepted, the King asked for a plate for him. The table was
square, he placed himself at one end, his back to the cabinet. Then the
Grand Chamberlain (or the first gentleman of the chamber) gave him drink
and plates, taking them from him as he finished with them, exactly as he
served the King; but Monsieur received all this attention with strongly
marked politeness. When he dined thus with the King he much enlivened
the conversation. The King ordinarily spoke little at table unless some
family favourite was near. It was the same at hid rising. Ladies
scarcely ever were seen at these little dinners.
I have, however, seen the Marechale de la Mothe, who came in because she
had been used to do so as governess to the children of France, and who
received a seat, because she was a Duchess. Grand dinners were very
rare, and only took place on grand occasions, and then ladies were
Upon leaving the table the King immediately entered his cabinet. That
was the time for distinguished people to speak to him. He stopped at the
door a moment to listen, then entered; very rarely did any one follow
him, never without asking him for permission to do so; and for this few
had the courage. If followed he placed himself in the embrasure of the
window nearest to the door of the cabinet, which immediately closed of
itself, and which you were obliged to open yourself on quitting the King.
This also was the time for the bastards and the valets.
The King amused himself by feeding his dogs, and remained with them more
or less time, then asked for his wardrobe, changed before the very few
distinguished people it pleased the first gentleman of the chamber to
admit there, and immediately went out by the back stairs into the court
of marble to get into his coach. From the bottom of that staircase to
the coach, any one spoke to him who wished.
The King was fond of air, and when deprived of it his health suffered; he
had headaches and vapours caused by the undue use he had formerly made of
perfumes, so that for many years he could not endure any, except the
odour of orange flowers; therefore if you had to approach anywhere near
him you did well not to carry them.
As he was but little sensitive to heat or cold, or even to rain, the
weather was seldom sufficiently bad to prevent his going abroad. He went
out for three objects: stag-hunting, once or more each week; shooting in
his parks (and no man handled a gun with more grace or skill), once or
twice each week; and walking in his gardens for exercise, and to see his
workmen. Sometimes he made picnics with ladies, in the forest at Marly
or at Fontainebleau, and in this last place, promenades with all the
Court around the canal, which was a magnificent spectacle. Nobody
followed him in his other promenades but those who held principal
offices, except at Versailles or in the gardens of Trianon. Marly had a
privilege unknown to the other places. On going out from the chateau,
the King said aloud, "Your hats, gentlemen," and immediately courtiers,
officers of the guard, everybody, in fact, covered their heads, as he
would have been much displeased had they not done so; and this lasted all
the promenade, that is four or five hours in summer, or in other seasons,
when he dined early at Versailles to go and walk at Marly, and not sleep
The stag-hunting parties were on an extensive scale. At Fontainebleau
every one went who wished; elsewhere only those were allowed to go who
had obtained the permission once for all, and those who had obtained
leave to wear the justau-corps, which was a blue uniform with silver and
gold lace, lined with red. The King did not like too many people at
these parties. He did not care for you to go if you were not fond of the
chase. He thought that ridiculous, and never bore ill-will to those who
stopped away altogether.
It was the same with the play-table, which he liked to see always well
frequented--with high stakes--in the saloon at Marly, for lansquenet and
other games. He amused himself at Fontainebleau during bad weather by
seeing good players at tennis, in which he had formerly excelled; and at
Marly by seeing mall played, in which he had also been skilful.
Sometimes when there was no council, he would make presents of stuff, or
of silverware, or jewels, to the ladies, by means of a lottery, for the
tickets of which they paid nothing. Madame de Maintenon drew lots with
the others, and almost always gave at once what she gained. The King
took no ticket.
Upon returning home from walks or drives, anybody, as I have said, might
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 XLVII|