Attempted Reconciliation between Dubois and Villeroy.--Violent Scene.--
Trap Laid for the Marechal.--Its Success.--His Arrest.
I Am Sent for by Cardinal Dubois.--Flight of Frejus.--He Is Sought and
Found.--Behaviour of Villeroy in His Exile at Lyons.--His Rage and
Reproaches against Frejus.--Rise of the Latter in the King's Confidence.
I Retire from Public Life.--Illness and Death of Dubois. --Account of His
Riches.--His Wife.--His Character.--Anecdotes.--Madame de Conflans.--
Relief of the Regent and the King.
Death of Lauzun.--His Extraordinary Adventures.--His Success at Court.--
Appointment to the Artillery.--Counter--worked by Louvois.--Lauzun and
Madame de Montespan.--Scene with the King.--Mademoiselle and Madame de
Lauzun's Magnificence.--Louvois Conspires against Him.--He Is
Imprisoned.--His Adventures at Pignerol.--On What Terms He Is Released.--
His Life Afterwards.--Return to Court.
Lauzun Regrets His Former Favour.--Means Taken to Recover It.--Failure.--
Anecdotes.--Biting Sayings.--My Intimacy with Lauzun.--His Illness,
Death, and Character.
Ill-Health of the Regent.--My Fears.--He Desires a Sudden Death.--
Apoplectic Fit.--Death.--His Successor as Prime Minister.--The Duc de
Chartres.--End of the Memoirs.
Few events of importance had taken place during my absence in Spain.
Shortly after my return, however, a circumstance occurred which may
fairly claim description from me. Let me, therefore, at once relate it.
Cardinal Dubois, every day more and more firmly established in the favour
of M. le Duc d'Orleans, pined for nothing less than to be declared prime
minister. He was already virtually in that position, but was not
publicly or officially recognised as being so. He wished, therefore, to
One great obstacle in his path was the Marechal de Villeroy, with whom he
was on very bad terms, and whom he was afraid of transforming into an
open and declared enemy, owing to the influence the Marechal exerted over
others. Tormented with agitating thoughts, every day that delayed his
nomination seemed to him a year. Dubois became doubly ill-tempered and
capricious, more and more inaccessible, and accordingly the most pressing
and most important business was utterly neglected. At last he resolved
to make a last effort at reconciliation with the Marechal, but
mistrusting his own powers, decided upon asking Cardinal Bissy to be the
mediator between them.
Bissy with great willingness undertook the peaceful commission; spoke to
Villeroy, who appeared quite ready to make friends with Dubois, and even
consented to go and see him. As chance would have it, he went,
accompanied by Bissy, on Tuesday morning. I at the same time went, as
was my custom, to Versailles to speak to M. le Duc d'Orleans upon some
subject, I forget now what.
It was the day on which the foreign ministers had their audience of
Cardinal Dubois, and when Bissy and Villeroy arrived, they found these
ministers waiting in the chamber adjoining the Cardinal's cabinet.
The established usage is that they have their audience according to the
order in which they arrive, so as to avoid all disputes among them as to
rank and precedence. Thus Bissy and Villeroy found Dubois closeted with
the Russian minister. It was proposed to inform the Cardinal at once, of
a this, so rare as a visit from the Marechal de Villeroy; but the
Marechal would not permit it, and sat down upon a sofa with Bissy to wait
like the rest.
The audience being over, Dubois came from his cabinet, conducting the
Russian minister, and immediately saw his sofa so well ornamented. He
saw nothing but that in fact; on the instant he ran there, paid a
thousand compliments to the Marechal for anticipating him, when he was
only waiting for permission to call upon him, and begged him and Bissy to
step into the cabinet. While they were going there, Dubois made his
excuses to the ambassadors for attending to Villeroy before them, saying
that his functions and his assiduity as governor of the King did not
permit him to be long absent from the presence of his Majesty; and with
this compliment he quitted them and returned into his cabinet.
At first nothing passed but reciprocal compliments and observations from
Cardinal Bissy, appropriate to the subject. Then followed protestations
from Dubois and replies from the Marechal. Thus far, the sea was very
smooth. But absorbed in his song, the Marechal began to forget its tune;
then to plume himself upon his frankness and upon his plain speaking;
then by degrees, growing hot in his honours, he gave utterance to divers
naked truths, closely akin to insults.
Dubois, much astonished, pretended not to feel the force of these
observations, but as they increased every moment, Bissy tried to call
back the Marechal, explain things to him, and give a more pleasant tone
to the conversation. But the mental tide had begun to rise, and now it
was entirely carrying away the brains of Villeroy. From bad to worse was
easy. The Marechal began now to utter unmistakable insults and the most
bitter reproaches. In vain Bissy tried to silence him; representing to
him how far he was wandering from the subject they came to talk upon; how
indecent it was to insult a man in his own house, especially, after
arriving on purpose to conclude a reconciliation with him. All Bissy
could say simply had the effect of exasperating the Marechal, and of
making him vomit forth the most extravagant insults that insolence and
disdain could suggest.
Dubois, stupefied and beside himself, was deprived of his tongue, could
not utter a word; while Bissy, justly inflamed with anger, uselessly
tried to interrupt his friend. In the midst of the sudden fire which had
seized the Marechal, he had placed himself in such a manner that he
barred the passage to the door, and he continued his invectives without
restraint. Tired of insults, he passed to menaces and derision, saying
to Dubois that since he had now thrown off all disguise, they no longer
were on terms to pardon each other, and then he assured Dubois that,
sooner or later, he would do him all the injury possible, and gave him
what he called good counsel.
"You are all powerful," said he; "everybody bends before you; nobody
resists you; what are the greatest people in the land compared with you?
Believe me, you have only one thing to do; employ all your power, put
yourself at ease, and arrest me, if you dare. Who can hinder you?
Arrest me, I say, you have only that course open."
Thereupon, he redoubled his challenges and his insults, like a man who is
thoroughly persuaded that between arresting him and scaling Heaven there
is no difference. As may well be imagined, such astounding remarks were
not uttered without interruption, and warm altercations from the Cardinal
de Bissy, who, nevertheless, could not stop the torrent. At last,
carried away by anger and vexation, Bissy seized the Marechal by the arm
and the shoulder, and hurried him to the door, which he opened, and then
pushed him out, and followed at his heels. Dubois, more dead than alive,
followed also, as well as he could--he was obliged to be on his guard
against the foreign ministers who were waiting. But the three disputants
vainly tried to appear composed; there was not one of the ministers who
did not perceive that some violent scene must have passed in the cabinet,
and forthwith Versailles was filled with this news; which was soon
explained by the bragging, the explanations, the challenges, and the
derisive speeches of the Marechal de Villeroy.
I had worked and chatted for a long time with M. le Duc d'Orleans. He
had passed into his wardrobe, and I was standing behind his bureau
arranging his papers when I saw Cardinal Dubois enter like a whirlwind,
his eyes starting out of his head. Seeing me alone, he screamed rather
than asked, "Where is M. le Duc d'Orleans?" I replied that he had gone
into his wardrobe, and seeing him so overturned, I asked him what was the
"I am lost, I am lost!" he replied, running to the wardrobe. His reply
was so loud and so sharp that M. le Duc d'Orleans, who heard it, also ran
forward, so that they met each other in the doorway. They returned
towards me, and the Regent asked what was the matter.
Dubois, who always stammered, could scarcely speak, so great was his rage
and fear; but he succeeded at last in acquainting us with the details I
have just given, although at greater length. He concluded by saying that
after the insults he had received so treacherously, and in a manner so
basely premeditated, the Regent must choose between him and the Marechal
de Villeroy, for that after what had passed he could not transact any
business or remain at the Court in safety and honour, while the Marechal
de Villeroy remained there!
I cannot express the astonishment into which M. le Duc d'Orleans and I
were thrown. We could not believe what we had heard, but fancied we were
dreaming. M. le Duc d'Orleans put several questions to Dubois, I took
the liberty to do the same, in order to sift the affair to the bottom.
But there was no variation in the replies of the Cardinal, furious as he
was. Every moment he presented the same option to the Regent; every
moment he proposed that the Cardinal de Bissy should be sent for as
having witnessed everything. It may be imagined that this second scene,
which I would gladly have escaped, was tolerably exciting.
The Cardinal still insisting that the Regent must choose which of the two
be sent away, M. le Duc d'Orleans asked me what I thought. I replied
that I was so bewildered and so moved by this astounding occurrence that
I must collect myself before speaking. The Cardinal, without addressing
himself to me but to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who he saw was plunged Memoirs
in embarrassment, strongly insisted that he must come to some resolution.
Upon this M. le Duc d'Orleans beckoned me over, and I said to him that
hitherto I had always regarded the dismissal of the Marechal de Villeroy
as a very dangerous enterprise, for reasons I had several times alleged
to his Royal Highness: but that now whatever peril there might be in
undertaking it, the frightful scene that had just been enacted persuaded
me that it would be much more dangerous to leave him near the King than
to get rid of him altogether. I added that this was my opinion, since
his Royal Highness wished to know it without giving me the time to
reflect upon it with more coolness; but as for the execution, that must
be well discussed before being attempted.
Whilst I spoke, the Cardinal pricked up his ears, turned his eyes upon
me, sucked in all my words, and changed colour like a man who hears his
doom pronounced. My opinion relieved him as much as the rage with which
he was filled permitted. M. le Duc d'Orleans approved what I had just
said, and the Cardinal, casting a glance upon me as of thanks, said he
was the master, and must choose, but that he must choose at once, because
things could not remain as they were. Finally, it was agreed that the
rest of the day (it was now about twelve) and the following morning
should be given to reflection upon the matter, and that the next day, at
three o'clock in the afternoon, I should meet M. le Duc d'Orleans.
The next day accordingly I went to M. le Prince, whom I found with the
Cardinal Dubois. M. le Duc entered a moment after, quite full of the
adventure. Cardinal Dubois did not fail, though, to give him an abridged
recital of it, loaded with comments and reflections. He was more his own
master than on the preceding day, having had time to recover himself, we
cherishing hopes that the Marechal would be sent to the right about. It
was here that I heard of the brag of the Marechal de Villeroy concerning
the struggle he had had with Dubois, and of the challenges and insults he
had uttered with a confidence which rendered his arrest more and more
After we had chatted awhile, standing, Dubois went away. M. le Duc
d'Orleans sat down at his bureau, and M. le Duc and I sat in front of
him. There we deliberated upon what ought to be done. After a few words
of explanation from the Regent, he called upon me to give my opinion. I
did so as briefly as possible, repeating what I had said on the previous
day. M. le Duc d'Orleans, during my short speech, was very attentive,
but with the countenance of a man much embarrassed.
As soon as I had finished, he asked M. le Duc what he thought. M. le Duc
said his opinion was mine, and that if the Marechal de Villeroy remained
in his office there was nothing for it but to put the key outside the
door; that was his expression. He reproduced some of the principal
reasons I had alleged, supported them, and concluded by saying there was
not a moment to lose. M. le Duc d'Orleans summed up a part of what had
been said, and agreed that the Marechal de Villeroy must be got rid of.
M. le Duc again remarked that it must be done at once. Then we set about
thinking how we could do it.
M. le Duc d'Orleans asked me my advice thereon. I said there were two
things to discuss, the pretext and the execution. That a pretext was
necessary, such as would convince the impartial, and be unopposed even by
the friends of the Marechal de Villeroy; that above all things we had to
take care to give no one ground for believing that the disgrace of
Villeroy was the fruit of the insults he had heaped upon Cardinal Dubois;
that outrageous as those insults might be, addressed to a cardinal, to a
minister in possession of entire confidence, and at the head of affairs,
the public, who envied him and did not like him, well remembering whence
he had sprung, would consider the victim too illustrious; that the
chastisement would overbalance the offence, and would be complained of;
that violent resolutions, although necessary, should always have reason
and appearances in their favour; that therefore I was against allowing
punishment to follow too quickly upon the real offence, inasmuch as M. le
Duc d'Orleans had one of the best pretexts in the world for disgracing
the Marechal, a pretext known by everybody, and which would be admitted
I begged the Regent then to remember that he had told me several times he
never had been able to speak to the King in private, or even in a whisper
before others; that when he had tried, the Marechal de Villeroy had at
once come forward poking his nose between them, and declaring that while
he was governor he would never suffer any one, not even his Royal
Highness, to address his Majesty in a low tone, much lest to speak to him
in private. I said that this conduct towards the Regent, a grandson of
France, and the nearest relative the King had, was insolence enough to
disgust every one, and apparent as such at half a glance. I counselled
M. le Duc d'Orleans to make use of this circumstance, and by its means to
lay a trap for the Marechal into which there was not the slightest doubt
he would fall. The trap was to be thus arranged. M. le Duc d'Orleans
was to insist upon his right to speak to the King in private, and upon
the refusal of the Marechal to recognise it, was to adopt a new tone and
make Villeroy feel he was the master. I added, in conclusion, that this
snare must not be laid until everything was ready to secure its success.
When I had ceased speaking, "You have robbed me," said the Regent; "I was
going to propose the same thing if you had not. What do you think of it,
Monsieur?" regarding M. le Duc. That Prince strongly approved the
proposition I had just made, briefly praised every part of it, and added
that he saw nothing better to be done than to execute this plan very
It was agreed afterwards that no other plan could be adopted than that of
arresting the Marechal and sending him right off at once to Villeroy, and
then, after having allowed him to repose there a day or two, on account
of his age, but well watched, to see if he should be sent on to Lyons or
elsewhere. The manner in which he was to be arrested was to be decided
at Cardinal Dubois' apartments, where the Regent begged me to go at once.
I rose accordingly, and went there.
I found Dubois with one or two friends, all of whom were in the secret of
this affair, as he, at once told me, to put me at my ease. We soon
therefore entered upon business, but it would be superfluous to relate
here all that passed in this little assembly. What we resolved on was
very well executed, as will be seen. I arranged with Le Blanc, who was
one of the conclave, that the instant the arrest had taken place, he
should send to Meudon, and simply inquire after me; nothing more, and
that by this apparently meaningless compliment, I should know that the
Marechal had been packed off.
I returned towards evening to Meudon, where several friends of Madame de
Saint-Simon and of myself often slept, and where others, following the
fashion established at Versailles and Paris, came to dine or sup, so that
the company was always very numerous. The scene between Dubois and
Villeroy was much talked about, and the latter universally blamed.
Neither then nor during the ten days which elapsed before his arrest,
did it enter into the head of anybody to suppose that anything worse
would happen to him than general blame for his unmeasured violence, so
accustomed were people to his freaks, and to the feebleness of M. le Duc
d'Orleans. I was now delighted, however, to find such general
confidence, which augmented that of the Marechal, and rendered more easy
the execution of our project against him; punishment he more and more
deserved by the indecency and affectation of his discourses, and the
audacity of his continual challenges.
Three or four days after, I went to Versailles, to see M. le Duc
d'Orleans. He said that, for want of a better, and in consequence of
what I had said to him on more than one occasion of the Duc de Charost,
it was to him he intended to give the office of governor of the King:
that he had secretly seen him that Charost had accepted with willingness
the post, and was now safely shut up in his apartment at Versailles,
seeing no one, and seen by no one, ready to be led to the King the moment
the time should arrive. The Regent went over with me all the measures to
be taken, and I returned to Meudon, resolved not to budge from it until
they were executed, there being nothing more to arrange.
On Sunday, the 12th of August, 1722, M. le Duc d'Orleans went, towards
the end of the afternoon, to work with the King, as he was accustomed to
do several times each week; and as it was summer time now, he went after
his airing, which he always took early. This work was to show the King
by whom were to be filled up vacant places in the church, among the
magistrates and intendants, &c., and to briefly explain to him the
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 xcvii||Chapter LXXXVIII|
|Chapter LXXVIII||Chapter XVIII|