senses, he took his keys, opened the cupboard, took from it the register
of the marriage of the year he wanted, very neatly detached the page he
sought (and woe unto that marriage registered upon the same page), put it
in his pocket, replaced the registers where he had found them, locked up
the cupboard, and put back the keys in the place he had taken them
from. His only thought after this was to steal off as soon as the dawn
appeared, leaving the good cure snoring away the effects of the wine, and
giving, some pistoles to the servant.
He went thence to the notary, who had succeeded to the business and the
papers of the one who had made the contract of marriage; liked himself up
with him, and by force and authority made him give up the minutes of the
marriage contract. He sent afterwards for the wife of Dubois (from whose
hands the wily Cardinal had already obtained the copy of the contract she
possessed), threatened her with dreadful dungeons if she ever dared to
breathe a word of her marriage, and promised marvels to her if she kept
He assured her, moreover, that all she could say or do would be thrown
away, because everything had been so arranged that she could prove
nothing, and that if she dared to speak, preparations were made for
condemning her as a calumniator and impostor, to rot with a shaven head
in the prison of a convent! Breteuil placed these two important
documents in the hands of Dubois, and was (to the surprise and scandal of
all the world) recompensed, some time after, with the post of war
secretary, which, apparently; he had done nothing to deserve, and for
which he was utterly unqualified. The secret reason of his appointment
was not discovered until long after.
Dubois' wife did not dare to utter a whisper. She came to Paris after
the death of her husband. A good proportion was given to her of what was
left. She lived obscure, but in easy circumstances, and died at Paris
more than twenty years after the Cardinal Dubois, by whom she had had no
children. The brother lived on very good terms with her. He was a
village doctor when Dubois sent for him to Paris: In the end this history
was known, and has been neither contradicted nor disavowed by anybody.
We have many examples of prodigious fortune acquired by insignificant
people, but there is no example of a person so destitute of all talent
(excepting that of low intrigue), as was Cardinal Dubois, being thus
fortunate. His intellect was of the most ordinary kind; his knowledge
the most common-place; his capacity nil; his exterior that of a ferret,
of a pedant; his conversation disagreeable, broken, always uncertain; his
falsehood written upon his forehead; his habits too measureless to be
hidden; his fits of impetuosity resembling fits of madness; his head
incapable of containing more than one thing at a time, and he incapable
of following anything but his personal interest; nothing was sacred with
him; he had no sort of worthy intimacy with any one; had a declared
contempt for faith, promises, honour, probity, truth; took pleasure at
laughing at all these things; was equally voluptuous and ambitious,
wishing to be all in all in everything; counting himself alone as
everything, and whatever was not connected with him as nothing; and
regarding it as the height of madness to think or act otherwise. With
all this he was soft, cringing, supple, a flatterer, and false admirer,
taking all shapes with the greatest facility, and playing the most
opposite parts in order to arrive at the different ends he proposed to
himself; and nevertheless was but little capable of seducing. His
judgment acted by fits and starts, was involuntarily crooked, with little
sense or clearness; he was disagreeable in spite of himself.
Nevertheless, he could be funnily vivacious when he wished, but nothing
more, could tell a good story, spoiled, however, to some extent by his
stuttering, which his falsehood had turned into a habit from the
hesitation he always had in replying and in speaking. With such defects
it is surprising that the only man he was able to seduce was M. le Duc
d'Orleans, who had so much intelligence, such a well-balanced mind, and
so much clear and rapid perception of character. Dubois gained upon him
as a child while his preceptor; he seized upon him as a young man by
favouring his liking for liberty, sham fashionable manners and
debauchery, and his disdain of all rule. He ruined his heart, his mind,
and his habits, by instilling into him the principles of libertines,
which this poor prince could no more deliver himself from than from those
ideas of reason, truth, and conscience which he always took care to
Dubois having insinuated himself into the favour of his master in this
manner, was incessantly engaged in studying how to preserve his position.
He never lost sight of his prince, whose great talents and great defects
he had learnt how to profit by. The Regent's feebleness was the main
rock upon which he built. As for Dubois' talent and capacity, as I have
before said, they were worth nothing. All his success was due to his
servile pliancy and base intrigues.
When he became the real master of the State he was just as incompetent as
before. All his application was directed towards his master, and it had
for sole aim that that master should not escape him. He wearied himself
in watching all the movements of the prince, what he did, whom he saw,
and for how long; his humour, his visage, his remarks at the issue of
every audience and of every party; who took part in them, what was said
and by whom, combining all these things; above all, he strove to frighten
everybody from approaching the Regent, and kept no bounds with any one
who had the temerity to do so without his knowledge and permission. This
watching occupied all his days, and by it he regulated all his movements.
This application, and the orders he was obliged to give for appearance
sake, occupied all his time, so that he became inaccessible except for a
few public audiences, or for others to the foreign ministers. Yet the
majority of those ministers never could catch him, and were obliged to
lie in wait for him upon staircases or in passages, where he did not
expect to meet them. Once he threw into the fire a prodigious quantity
of unopened letters, and then congratulated himself upon having got rid
of all his business at once. At his death thousands of letters were
Thus everything was in arrear, and nobody, not even the foreign
ministers, dared to complain to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, entirely
abandoned to his pleasures, and always on the road from Versailles to
Paris, never thought of business, only too satisfied to find himself so
free, and attending to nothing except the few trifles he submitted to the
King under the pretence of working with his Majesty. Thus, nothing could
be settled, and all was in chaos. To govern in this manner there is no
need for capacity. Two words to each minister charged with a department,
and some care in garnishing the councils attended by the King, with the
least important despatches (settling the others with M. le Duc d'Orleans)
constituted all the labour of the prime minister; and spying, scheming,
parade, flatteries, defence, occupied all his time. His fits of passion,
full of insults and blackguardism, from which neither man nor woman, no
matter of what rank, was sheltered, relieved him from an infinite number
of audiences, because people preferred going to subalterns, or neglecting
their business altogether, to exposing themselves to this fury and these
The mad freaks of Dubois, especially when he had become master, and
thrown off all restraint, would fill a volume. I will relate only one or
two as samples. His frenzy was such that he would sometimes run all
round the chamber, upon the tables and chairs, without touching the
floor! M. le Duc d'Orleans told me that he had often witnessed this.
The Cardinal de Gesvres came over to-day to complain to M. le Duc
d'Orleans that the Cardinal Dubois had dismissed him in the most filthy
terms. On a former occasion, Dubois had treated the Princesse de
Montauban in a similar manner, and M. le Duc d'Orleans had replied to her
complaints as he now replied to those of the Cardinal de Gesvres. He
told the Cardinal, who was a man of good manners, of gravity, and of
dignity (whereas the Princess deserved what she got) that he had always
found the counsel of the Cardinal Dubois good, and that he thought he
(Gesvres ) would do well to follow the advice just given him! Apparently
it was to free himself from similar complaints that he spoke thus; and,
in fact, he had no more afterwards.
Madame de Cheverny, become a widow, had retired to the Incurables. Her
place of governess of the daughters of M. le Duc d'Orleans had been given
to Madame de Conflans. A little while after Dubois was consecrated,
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans asked Madame de Conflans if she had called
upon him. Thereupon Madame de Conflans replied negatively and that she
saw no reason for going, the place she held being so little mixed up in
State affairs. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans pointed out how intimate the
Cardinal was with M. le Duc d'Orleans. Madame de Conflans still tried to
back out, saying that he was a madman, who insulted everybody, and to
whom she would not expose herself. She had wit and a tongue, and was
supremely vain, although very polite. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans burst
out laughing at her fear, and said, that having nothing to ask of the
Cardinal, but simply to render an account to him of the office M. le Duc
d'Orleans had given her, it was an act of politeness which could only
please him, and obtain for her his regard, far from having anything
disagreeable, or to be feared about it; and finished by saying to her
that it was proper, and that she wished her to go.
She went, therefore, for it was at Versailles, and arrived in a large
cabinet, where there were eight or ten persons waiting to speak to the
Cardinal, who was larking with one of his favourites, by the mantelpiece.
Fear seized upon Madame de Conflans, who was little, and who appeared
less. Nevertheless, she approached as this woman retired. The Cardinal,
seeing her advance, sharply asked her what she wanted.
"Monseigneur," said she,--"Oh, Monseigneur--"
"Monseigneur," interrupted the Cardinal, "I can't now."
"But, Monseigneur," replied she--
"Now, devil take me, I tell you again," interrupted the Cardinal, "when I
say I can't, I can't."
"Monseigneur," Madame de Conflans again said, in order to explain that
she wanted nothing; but at this word the Cardinal seized her by the
shoulders; and pushed her out, saying, "Go to the devil, and let me
She nearly fell over, flew away in fury, weeping hot tears, and reached,
in this state, Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, to whom, through her sobs,
she related the adventure.
People were so accustomed to the insults of the Cardinal, and this was
thought so singular and so amusing, that the recital of it caused shouts
of laughter, which finished off poor Madame de Conflans, who swore that,
never in her life, would she put foot in the house of this madman.
The Easter Sunday after he was made Cardinal, Dubois woke about eight
o'clock, rang his bells as though he would break them, called for his
people with the most horrible blasphemies, vomited forth a thousand
filthy expressions and insults, raved at everybody because he had not
been awakened, said that he wanted to say mass, but knew not how to find
time, occupied as he was. After this very beautiful preparation, he very
wisely abstained from saying mass, and I don't know whether he ever did
say it after his consecration.
He had taken for private secretary one Verrier, whom he had unfrocked
from the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the business of which he had
conducted for twenty years, with much cleverness and intelligence. He
soon accommodated himself to the humours of the Cardinal, and said to him
all he pleased.
One morning he was with the Cardinal, who asked for something that could
not at once be found. Thereupon Dubois began to blaspheme, to storm
against his clerks, saying that if he had not enough he would engage
twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, and making the most frightful din.
Verrier tranquilly listened to him. The Cardinal asked him if it was not
a terrible thing to be so ill-served, considering the expense he was put
to; then broke out again, and pressed him to reply.
"Monseigneur," said Verrier, "engage one more clerk, and give him, for
sole occupation, to swear and storm for you, and all will go well; you
will have much more time to yourself and will be better served."
The Cardinal burst out laughing, and was appeased.
Every evening he ate an entire chicken for his supper. I know not by
whose carelessness, but this chicken was forgotten one evening by his
people. As he was about to go to bed he bethought him of his bird, rang,
cried out, stormed against his servants, who ran and coolly listened to
him. Upon this he cried the more, and complained of not having been
served. He was astonished when they replied to him that he had eaten his
chicken, but that if he pleased they would put another down to the spit.
"What!" said he, "I have eaten my chicken!"
The bold and cool assertion of his people persuaded him, and they laughed
I will say no more, because, I repeat it, volumes might be filled with
these details. I have said enough to show what was this monstrous
personage, whose death was a relief to great and little, to all Europe,
even to his brother, whom he treated like a negro. He wanted to dismiss
a groom on one occasion for having lent one of his coaches to this same
brother, to go somewhere in Paris.
The most relieved of all was M. le Duc d'Orleans. For a long time he had
groaned in secret beneath the weight of a domination so harsh, and of
chains he had forged for himself. Not only he could no longer dispose or
decide upon anything, but he could get the Cardinal to do nothing, great
or small, he desired done. He was obliged, in everything, to follow the
will of the Cardinal, who became furious, reproached him, and stormed
at him when too much contradicted. The poor Prince felt thus the
abandonment into which he had cast himself, and, by this abandonment,
the power of the Cardinal, and the eclipse of his own power. He feared
him; Dubois had become insupportable to him; he was dying with desire, as
was shown in a thousand things, to get rid of him, but he dared not--he
did not know how to set about it; and, isolated and unceasingly wretched
as he was, there was nobody to whom he could unbosom himself; and the
Cardinal, well informed of this, increased his freaks, so as to retain by
fear what he had usurped by artifice, and what he no longer hoped to
preserve in any other way.
As soon as Dubois was dead, M. le Duc d'Orleans returned to Meudon, to
inform the King of the event. The King immediately begged him to charge
himself with the management of public affairs, declared him prime
minister, and received, the next day, his oath, the patent of which was
immediately sent to the Parliament, and verified. This prompt
declaration was caused by the fear Frejus had to see a private person
prime minister. The King liked M. le Duc d'Orleans, as we have already
seen by the respect he received from him, and by his manner of working
with him. The Regent, without danger of being taken at his word, always
left him master of all favours, and of the choice of persons he proposed
to him; and, besides, never bothered him, or allowed business to
interfere with his amusements. In spite of all the care and all the
suppleness Dubois had employed in order to gain the spirit of the King,
he never could succeed, and people remarked, without having wonderful
eyes, a very decided repugnance of the King for him. The Cardinal was
afflicted, but redoubled his efforts, in the hope at last of success.
But, in addition to his own disagreeable manners, heightened by the
visible efforts he made to please, he had two enemies near the King, very
watchful to keep him away from the young prince--the Marechal de
Villeroy, while he was there, and Frejus, who was much more dangerous,
and who was resolved to overthrow him. Death, as we have seen, spared
him the trouble.
The Court returned from Meudon to Paris on the 13th of August. Soon
after I met M. le Duc d'Orleans there.
As soon as he saw me enter his cabinet he ran to me, and eagerly asked me
if I meant to abandon him. I replied that while his Cardinal lived I
felt I should be useless to him, but that now this obstacle was removed,
I should always be very humbly at his service. He promised to live with
me on the same terms as before, and, without a word upon the Cardinal,
began to talk about home and foreign affairs. If I flattered myself that
I was to be again of use to him for any length of time, events soon came
to change the prospect. But I will not anticipate my story.
The Duc de Lauzun died on the 19th of November, at the age of ninety
years and six months. The intimate union of the two sisters I and he had
espoused, and our continual intercourse at the Court (at Marly, we had a
pavilion especially for us four), caused me to be constantly with him,
and after the King's death we saw each other nearly every day at Paris,
and unceasingly frequented each other's table. He was so extraordinary a
personage, in every way so singular, that La Bruyere, with much justice,
says of him in his "Characters," that others were not allowed to dream as
he had lived. For those who saw him in his old age, this description
seems even more just. That is what induces me to dwell upon him here.
He was of the House of Caumont, the branch of which represented by the
Ducs de la Force has always passed for the eldest, although that of
Lauzun has tried to dispute with it.
The mother of M. de Lauzun was daughter of the Duc de la Force, son of
the second Marechal Duc de la Force, and brother of the Marechale de
Turenne, but by another marriage; the Marechale was by a first marriage.
The father of M. de Lauzun was the Comte de Lauzun, cousin-german of the
first Marechal Duc de Grammont, and of the old Comte de Grammont.
M. de Lauzun was a little fair man, of good figure, with a noble and
expressively commanding face, but which was without charm, as I have
heard people say who knew him when he was young. He was full of
ambition, of caprice, of fancies; jealous of all; wishing always to go
too far; never content with anything; had no reading, a mind in no way
cultivated, and without charm; naturally sorrowful, fond of solitude,
uncivilised; very noble in his dealings, disagreeable and malicious by
nature, still more so by jealousy and by ambition; nevertheless, a good
friend when a friend at all, which was rare; a good relative; enemy even
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|