Chapter cxiii icon

Chapter cxiii



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of the indifferent; hard upon faults, and upon what was ridiculous,

which he soon discovered; extremely brave, and as dangerously bold.

As a courtier he was equally insolent and satirical, and as cringing as a

valet; full of foresight, perseverance, intrigue, and meanness, in order

to arrive at his ends; with this, dangerous to the ministers; at the

Court feared by all, and full of witty and sharp remarks which spared

nobody.


He came very young to the Court without any fortune, a cadet of Gascony,

under the name of the Marquis de Puyguilhem. The Marechal de Grammont,

cousin-german of his brother, lodged him: Grammont was then in high

consideration at the Court, enjoyed the confidence of the Queen-mother,

and of Cardinal Mazarin, and had the regiment of the guards and the

reversion of it for the Comte de Guiche, his eldest son, who, the prince

of brave fellows, was on his side in great favour with the ladies, and

far advanced in the good graces of the King and of the Comtesse de

Soissons, niece of the Cardinal, whom the King never quitted, and who was

the Queen of the Court. This Comte de Guiche introduced to the Comtesse

de Soissons the Marquis de Puyguilhem, who in a very little time became

the King's favourite. The King, in fact, gave him his regiment of

dragoons on forming it, and soon after made him Marechal de Camp, and

created for him the post of colonel-general of dragoons.


The Duc de Mazarin, who in 1669 had already retired from the Court,

wished to get rid of his post of grand master of the artillery;

Puyguilhem had scent of his intention, and asked the King for this

office. The King promised it to him, but on condition that he kept the

matter secret some days. The day arrived on which the King had agreed to

declare him. Puyguilhem, who had the entrees of the first gentleman of

the chamber (which are also named the grandes entrees), went to wait for

the King (who was holding a finance council), in a room that nobody

entered during the council, between that in which all the Court waited,

and that in which the council itself was held. He found there no one but

Nyert, chief valet de chambre, who asked him how he happened to come

there. Puyguilhem, sure of his affair, thought he should make a friend

of this valet by confiding to him what was about to take place. Nyert

expressed his joy; then drawing out his watch, said he should have time

to go and execute a pressing commission the King had given him.
He

mounted four steps at a time the little staircase, at the head of which

was the bureau where Louvois worked all day--for at Saint-Germain the

lodgings were little and few--and the ministers and nearly all the Court

lodged each at his own house in the town. Nyert entered the bureau of

Louvois, and informed him that upon leaving the council (of which Louvois

was not a member), the King was going to declare Puyguilhem grand master

of the artillery, adding that he had just learned this news from

Puyguilhem himself, and saying where he had left him.


Louvois hated Puyguilhem, friend of Colbert, his rival, and he feared his

influence in a post which had so many intimate relations with his

department of the war, the functions and authority of which he invaded

as much as possible, a proceeding which he felt Puyguilhem was not the

kind of man to suffer. He embraces Nyert, thanking him, dismisses him as

quickly as possible, takes some papers to serve as an excuse, descends,

and finds Puyguilhem and Nyert in the chamber, as above described. Nyert

pretends to be surprised to see Louvois arrive, and says to him that the

council has not broken up.


"No matter," replied Louvois, "I must enter, I have something important

to say to the King;" and thereupon he enters. The King, surprised to see

him, asks what brings him there, rises, and goes to him. Louvois draws

him into the embrasure of a window, and says he knows that his Majesty is

going to declare Puyguilhem grand master of the artillery; that he is

waiting in the adjoining room for the breaking up of the council; that

his Majesty is fully master of his favours and of his choice, but that he

(Louvois) thinks it his duty to represent to him the incompatibility

between Puyguilhem and him, his caprices, his pride; that he will wish to

change everything in the artillery; that this post has such intimate

relations with the war department, that continual quarrels will arise

between the two, with which his Majesty will be importuned at every

moment.


The King is piqued to see his secret known by him from whom, above all,

he wished to hide it; he replies to Louvois, with a very serious air,

that the appointment is not yet made, dismisses him, and reseats himself

at the council. A moment after it breaks up. The King leaves to go to

mass, sees Puyguilhem, and passes without saying anything to him.

Puyguilhem, much astonished, waits all the rest of the day, and seeing

that the promised declaration does not come, speaks of it to the King at

night. The King replies to him that it cannot be yet, and that he will

see; the ambiguity of the response, and the cold tone, alarm Puyguilhem;

he is in favour with the ladies, and speaks the jargon of gallantry; he

goes to Madame de Montespan, to whom he states his disquietude, and

conjures her to put an end to it. She promises him wonders, and amuses

him thus several days.


Tired of this, and not being able to divine whence comes his failure, he

takes a resolution--incredible if it was not attested by all the Court of

that time. The King was in the habit of visiting Madame de Montespan in

the afternoon, and of remaining with her some time. Puyguilhem was on

terms of tender intimacy with one of the chambermaids of Madame de

Montespan. She privately introduced him into the room where the King

visited Madame de Montespan, and he secreted himself under the bed. In

this position he was able to hear all the conversation that took place

between the King and his mistress above, and he learned by it that it was

Louvois who had ousted him; that the King was very angry at the secret

having got wind, and had changed his resolution to avoid quarrels between

the artillery and the war department; and, finally, that Madame de

Montespan, who had promised him her good offices, was doing him all the

harm she could. A cough, the least movement, the slightest accident,

might have betrayed the foolhardy Puyguilhem, and then what would have

become of him? These are things the recital of which takes the breath

away, and terrifies at the same time.


Puyguilhem was more fortunate than prudent, and was not discovered. The

King and his mistress at last closed their conversation; the King dressed

himself again, and went to his own rooms. Madame de Montespan went away

to her toilette, in order to prepare for the rehearsal of a ballet to

which the King, the Queen, and all the Court were going. The chambermaid

drew Puyguilhem from under the bed, and he went and glued himself against

the door of Madame de Montespan's chamber.


When Madame de Montespan came forth, in order to go to the rehearsal of

the ballet, he presented his hand to her, and asked her, with an air of

gentleness and of respect, if he might flatter himself that she had

deigned to think of him when with the King. She assured him that she had

not failed, and enumerated services she had; she said, just rendered him.

Here and there he credulously interrupted her with questions, the better

to entrap her; then, drawing near her, he told her she was a liar, a

hussy, a harlot, and repeated to her, word for word, her conversation

with the King!


Madame de Montespan was so amazed that she had not strength enough to

reply one word; with difficulty she reached the place she was going to,

and with difficulty overcame and hid the trembling of her legs and of her

whole body; so that upon arriving at the room where the rehearsal was to

take place, she fainted. All the Court was already there. The King, in

great fright, came to her; it was not without much trouble she was

restored to herself. The same evening she related to the King what had

just happened, never doubting it was the devil who had so promptly and so

precisely informed Puyguilhem of all that she had said to the King. The

King was extremely irritated at the insult Madame de Montespan had

received, and was much troubled to divine how Puyguilhem had been so

exactly and so suddenly instructed.


Puyguilhem, on his side, was furious at losing the artillery, so that the

King and he were under strange constraint together. This could last only

a few days. Puyguilhem, with his grandes entrees, seized his opportunity

and had a private audience with the King. He spoke to him of the

artillery, and audaciously summoned him to keep his word. The King

replied that he was not bound by it, since he had given it under secrecy,

which he (Puyguilhem) had broken.


Upon this Puyguilhem retreats a few steps, turns his back upon the King,

draws his sword, breaks the blade of it with his foot, and cries out in

fury, that he will never in his life serve a prince who has so shamefully

broken his word. The King, transported with anger, performed in that

moment the finest action perhaps of his life. He instantly turned round,

opened the window, threw his cane outside, said he should be sorry to

strike a man of quality, and left the room.


The next morning, Puyguilhem, who had not dared to show himself since,

was arrested in his chamber, and conducted to the Bastille. He was an

intimate friend of Guitz, favourite of the King, for whom his Majesty had

created the post of grand master of the wardrobe. Guitz had the courage

to speak to the King in favour of Puyguilhem, and to try and reawaken the

infinite liking he had conceived for the young Gascon. He succeeded so

well in touching the King, by showing him that the refusal of such a

grand post as the artillery had turned Puyguilhem's head, that his

Majesty wished to make amends far this refusal. He offered the post of

captain of the King's guards to Puyguilhem, who, seeing this incredible

and prompt return of favour, re-assumed sufficient audacity to refuse it,

flattering himself he should thus gain a better appointment. The King

was not discouraged. Guitz went and preached to his friend in the

Bastille, and with great trouble made him agree to have the goodness to

accept the King's offer. As soon as he had accepted it he left the

Bastille, went and saluted the King, and took the oaths of his new post,

selling that which he occupied in the dragoons.


He had in 1665 the government of Berry, at the death of Marechal de

Clerembault. I will not speak here of his adventures with Mademoiselle,

which she herself so naively relates in her memoirs, or of his extreme

folly in delaying his marriage with her (to which the King had

consented), in order to have fine liveries, and get the marriage

celebrated at the King's mass, which gave time to Monsieur (incited by M.

le Prince) to make representations to the King, which induced him to

retract his consent, breaking off thus the marriage. Mademoiselle made a

terrible uproar, but Puyguilhem, who since the death of his father had

taken the name of Comte de Lauzun, made this great sacrifice with good

grace, and with more wisdom than belonged to him. He had the company of

the hundred gentlemen, with battle-axes, of the King's household, which

his father had had, and he had just been made lieutenant-general.


Lauzun was in love with Madame de Monaco, an intimate friend of Madame,

and in all her Intrigues: He was very jealous of her, and was not pleased

with her. One summer's afternoon he went to Saint-Cloud, and found

Madame and her Court seated upon the ground, enjoying the air, and Madame

de Monaco half lying down, one of her hands open and outstretched.

Lauzun played the gallant with the ladies, and turned round so neatly

that he placed his heel in the palm of Madame de Monaco, made a pirouette

there, and departed. Madame de Monaco had strength enough to utter no

cry, no word!


A short time after he did worse. He learnt that the King was on intimate

terms with Madame de Monaco, learnt also the hour at which Bontems, the

valet, conducted her, enveloped in a cloak, by a back staircase, upon the

landing-place of which was a door leading into the King's cabinet, and in

front of it a private cabinet. Lauzun anticipates the hour, and lies in

ambush in the private cabinet, fastening it from within with a hook, and

sees through the keyhole the King open the door of the cabinet, put the

key outside (in the lock) and close the door again. Lauzun waits a

little, comes out of his hiding-place, listens at the door in which the

King had just placed the key, locks it, and takes out the key, which he

throws into the private cabinet, in which he again shuts himself up.


Some time after Bontems and the lady arrive. Much astonished not to find

the key in the door of the King's cabinet, Bontems gently taps at the

door several times, but in vain; finally so loudly does he tap that the

King hears the sound. Bontems says he is there, and asks his Majesty to

open, because the key is not in the door. The King replies that he has

just put it there. Bontems looks on the ground for it, the King

meanwhile trying to open the door from the inside, and finding it double-

locked. Of course all three are much astonished and much annoyed; the

conversation is carried on through the door, and they cannot determine

how this accident has happened. The King exhausts himself in efforts to

force the door, in spite of its being double-locked. At last they are

obliged to say good-bye through the door, and Lauzun, who hears every

word they utter, and who sees them through the keyhole, laughs in his

sleeve at their mishap with infinite enjoyment.


^ CHAPTER CXVII


In 1670 the King wished to make a triumphant journey with the ladies,

under pretext of visiting his possessions in Flanders, accompanied by an

army, and by all his household troops, so that the alarm was great in the

Low Countries, which he took no pains to appease. He gave the command of

all to Lauzun, with the patent of army-general. Lauzun performed the

duties of his post with much intelligence, and with extreme gallantry and

magnificence. This brilliancy, and this distinguished mark of favour,

made Louvois, whom Lauzun in no way spared, think very seriously. He

united with Madame de Montespan (who had not pardoned the discovery

Lauzun had made, or the atrocious insults he had bestowed upon her), and

the two worked so well that they reawakened in the King's mind

recollections of the broken sword, the refusal in the Bastille of the

post of captain of the guards, and made his Majesty look upon Lauzun as a

man who no longer knew himself, who had suborned Mademoiselle until he

had been within an inch of marrying her, and of assuring to himself

immense wealth; finally, as a man, very dangerous on account of his

audacity, and who had taken it into his head to gain the devotion of the

troops by his magnificence, his services to the officers, and by the

manner in which he had treated them during the Flanders journey, making

himself adored. They made him out criminal for having remained the

friend of, and on terms of great intimacy with, the Comtesse de Soissons,

driven from the Court and suspected of crimes. They must have accused

Lauzun also of crimes which I have never heard of, in order to procure

for him the barbarous treatment they succeeded in subjecting him to.


Their intrigues lasted all the year, 1671, without Lauzun discovering

anything by the visage of the King, or that of Madame de Montespan. Both

the King and his mistress treated him with their ordinary distinction and

familiarity. He was a good judge of jewels (knowing also how to set them

well), and Madame de Montespan often employed him in this capacity. One

evening, in the middle of November, 1671, he arrived from Paris, where

Madame de Montespan had sent him in the morning for some precious stones,

and as he was about to enter his chamber he was arrested by the Marechal

de Rochefort, captain of the guards.


Lauzun, in the utmost surprise, wished to know why, to see the King or

Madame de Montespan--at least, to write to them; everything was refused

him. He was taken to the Bastille, and shortly afterwards to Pignerol,

where he was shut up in a low-roofed dungeon. His post of captain of the

body-guard was given to M. de Luxembourg, and the government of Berry to

the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, who, at the death of Guitz, at the passage

of the Rhine, 12th June, 1672, was made grand master of the wardrobe.


It may be imagined what was the state of a man like Lauzun, precipitated,

in a twinkling, from such a height to a dungeon in the chateau of

Pignerol, without seeing anybody, and ignorant of his crime. He bore up,

however, pretty well, but at last fell so ill that he began to think

about confession. I have heard him relate that he feared a fictitious

priest, and that, consequently, he obstinately insisted upon a Capuchin;

and as soon as he came he seized him by the beard, and tugged at it,

as hard as he could, on all sides, in order to see that it was not a sham

one! He was four or five years in his gaol. Prisoners find employment

which necessity teaches them. There ware prisoners above him and at the

side of him. They found means to speak to him. This intercourse led

them to make a hole, well hidden, so as to talk more easily; then to

increase it, and visit each other.


The superintendent Fouquet had been enclosed near them ever since

December, 1664. He knew by his neighbours (who had found means of seeing

him) that Lauzun was under them. Fouquet, who received no news, hoped

for some from him, and had a great desire to see him. He, had left

Lauzun a young man, dawning at the Court, introduced by the Marechal de

Grammont, well received at the house of the Comtesse de Soissons, which

the King never quitted, and already looked upon favourably. The

prisoners, who had become intimate with Lauzun, persuaded him to allow

himself to be drawn up through their hole, in order to see Fouquet in

their dungeon. Lauzun was very willing. They met, and Lauzun began

relating, accordingly, his fortunes and his misfortunes, to Fouquet. The

unhappy superintendent opened wide his ears and eyes when he heard this

young Gasepan (once only too happy to be welcomed and harboured by the

Marechal de Grammont) talk of having been general of dragoons, captain of

the guards, with the patent and functions of army-general! Fouquet no

longer knew where he was, believed Lauzun mad, and that he was relating

his visions, when he described how he had missed the artillery, and what

had passed afterwards thereupon: but he was convinced that madness had

reached its climax, and was afraid to be with Lauzun, when he heard him

talk of his marriage with Mademoiselle, agreed to by the King, how

broken, and the wealth she had assured to him. This much curbed their

intercourse, as far as Fouquet was concerned, for he, believing the brain

of Lauzun completely turned, took for fairy tales all the stories the

Gascon told him of what had happened in the world, from the imprisonment

of the one to the imprisonment of the other.


The confinement of Fouquet was a little relieved before that of Lauzun.

His wife and some officers of the chateau of Pignerol had permission to

see him, and to tell him the news of the day. One of the first things he

did was to tell them of this poor Puyguilhem, whom he had left young, and

on a tolerably good footing for his age, at the Court, and whose head was

now completely turned, his madness hidden within the prison walls; but

what was his astonishment when they all assured him that what he had

heard was perfectly true! He did not return to the subject, and was

tempted to believe them all mad together. It was some time before he was

persuaded.


In his turn, Lauzun was taken from his dungeon, and had a chamber, and

soon after had the same liberty that had been given to Fouquet; finally,

they were allowed to see each other as much as they liked. I have never

known what displeased Lauzun, but he left Pignerol the enemy of Fouquet,

and did him afterwards all the harm he could, and after his death

extended his animosity to his family.


During the long imprisonment of Lauzun, Madame de Nogent, one of his

sisters, took such care of his revenues that he left Pignerol extremely

rich.


Mademoiselle, meanwhile, was inconsolable at this long and harsh

imprisonment, and took all possible measures to deliver Lauzun. The King

at last resolved to turn this to the profit of the Duc du Maine, and to

make Mademoiselle pay dear for the release of her lover. He caused a

proposition to be made to her, which was nothing less than to assure to

the Duc du Maine, and his posterity after her death, the countdom of Eu,

the Duchy of Aumale, and the principality of Domfes! The gift was

enormous, not only as regards the value, but the dignity and extent of

these three slices. Moreover, she had given the first two to Lauzun,

with the Duchy of Saint-Forgeon, and the fine estate of Thiers, in

Auvergne, when their marriage was broken off, and she would have been

obliged to make him renounce Eu and Aumale before she could have disposed

of them in favour of the Duc du Maine. Mademoiselle could not, make up

her mind to this yoke, or to strip Lauzun of such considerable benefits.

She was importuned to the utmost, finally menaced by the ministers, now

Louvois, now Colbert. With the latter she was better pleased, because he

had always been on good terms with Lauzun, and because he handled her

more gently than Louvois, who, an enemy of her lover, always spoke in the

harshest terms. Mademoiselle unceasingly felt that the King did not like

her, and that he had never pardoned her the Orleans journey, still less

her doings at the Bastille, when she fired its cannons upon the King's

troops, and saved thus M. le Prince and his people, at the combat of the

Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Feeling, therefore, that the King, hopelessly

estranged from her, and consenting to give liberty to Lauzun only from

his passion for elevating and enriching his bastards, would not cease to

persecute her until she had consented--despairing of better terms, she

agreed to the gift, with the most bitter tears and complaints. But it

was found that, in order to make valid the renunciation of Lauzun, he

must be set at liberty, so that it was pretended he had need of the

waters of Bourbon, and Madame de Montespan also, in order that they might

confer together upon this affair.


Lauzun was taken guarded to Bourbon by a detachment of musketeers,

commanded by Maupertuis. Lauzun saw Madame de Montespan at Bourbon; but

he was so indignant at the terms proposed to him as the condition of his

liberty, that after long disputes he would hear nothing more on the

subject, and was reconducted to Pignerol as he had been brought.


This firmness did not suit the King, intent upon the fortune of his well-

beloved bastard. He sent Madame de Nogent to Pignerol; then Borin (a

friend of Lauzun, and who was mixed up in all his affairs), with menaces

and promises. Borin, with great trouble, obtained the consent of Lauzun,

and brought about a second journey to Bourbon for him and Madame de

Montespan, with the same pretext of the waters. Lauzun was conducted

there as before, and never pardoned Maupertuis the severe pedantry of his

exactitude. This last journey was made in the autumn of 1680. Lauzun

consented to everything. Madame de Montespan returned triumphant.

Maupertuis and his musketeers took leave of Lauzun at Bourbon, whence he

had permission to go and reside at Angers; and immediately after, this

exile was enlarged, so that he had the liberty of all Anjou and Lorraine.

The consummation of the affair was deferred until the commencement of

February, 1681, in order to give him a greater air of liberty. Thus

Lauzun had from Mademoiselle only Saint-Forgeon and Thiers, after having

been on the point of marrying her, and of succeeding to all her immense

wealth. The Duc du Maine was instructed to make his court to

Mademoiselle, who always received him very coldly, and who saw him take

her arms, with much vexation, as a mark of his gratitude, in reality for

the Sake of the honour it brought him; for the arms were those of Gaston,

which the Comte de Toulouse afterwards took, not for the same reason, but

under pretext of conformity with his brother; and they have handed them

down to their children.


Lauzun, who had been led to expect much more gentle treatment, remained

four years in these two provinces, of which he grew as weary as was

Mademoiselle at his absence. She cried out in anger against Madame de

Montespan and her son; complained loudly that after having been so

pitilessly fleeced, Lauzun was still kept removed from her; and made such

a stir that at last she obtained permission for him to return to Paris,

with entire liberty; on condition, however, that he did not approach

within two leagues of any place where the King might be.


Lauzun came, therefore, to Paris, and assiduously visited his

benefactors. The weariness of this kind of exile, although so softened,

led him into high play, at which he was extremely successful; always a

good and sure player, and very straightforward, he gained largely.

Monsieur, who sometimes made little visits to Paris, and who played very

high, permitted him to join the gambling parties of the Palais Royal,

then those of Saint-Cloud. Lauzun passed thus several years, gaining and

lending much money very nobly; but the nearer he found himself to the

Court, and to the great world, the more insupportable became to him the

prohibition he had received.


Finally, being no longer able to bear it, he asked the King for

permission to go to England, where high play was much in vogue. He

obtained it, and took with him a good deal of money, which secured him an

open-armed reception in London, where he was not less successful than in

Paris.


James II., then reigning, received Lauzun with distinction. But the

Revolution was already brewing. It burst after Lauzun had been in

England eight or ten months. It seemed made expressly for him, by the

success he derived from it, as everybody is aware. James II., no longer

knowing what was to become of him--betrayed by his favourites and his

ministers, abandoned by all his nation, the Prince of Orange master of

all hearts, the troops, the navy, and ready to enter London--the unhappy

monarch confided to Lauzun what he held most dear--the Queen and the

Prince of Wales, whom Lauzun happily conducted to Calais. The Queen at

once despatched a courier to the King, in the midst of the compliments of

which she insinuated that by the side of her joy at finding herself and

her son in security under his protection, was her grief at not daring to

bring with her him to whom she owed her safety.


The reply of the King, after much generous and gallant sentiment, was,

that he shared this obligation with her, and that he hastened to show it

to her, by restoring the Comte de Lauzun to favour.


In effect, when the Queen presented Lauzun to the King, in the Palace of

Saint-Germain (where the King, with all the family and all the Court,

came to meet her), he treated him as of old, gave him the privilege of

the grandes entrees, and promised him a lodging at Versailles, which he

received immediately after. From that day he always went to Marly, and

to Fontainebleau, and, in fact, never after quitted the Court. It may be

imagined what was the delight of such an ambitious courtier, so

completely re-established in such a sudden and brilliant manner. He had

also a lodging in the chateau of Saint-Germain, chosen as the residence

of this fugitive Court, at which King James soon arrived.


Lauzun, like a skilful courtier, made all possible use of the two Courts,

and procured for himself many interviews with the King, in which he

received minor commissions. Finally, he played his cards so well that

the King permitted him to receive in Notre Dame, at Paris, the Order of

the Garter, from the hands of the King of England, accorded to him at his

second passage into Ireland the rank of lieutenant-general of his

auxiliary army, and permitted at the same time that he should be of the

staff of the King of England, who lost Ireland during the same campaign

at the battle of the Boyne. He returned into France with the Comte de

Lauzun, for whom he obtained letters of the Duke; which were verified at

the Parliament in May, 1692. What a miraculous return of fortune! But

what a fortune, in comparison with that of marrying Mademoiselle, with

the donation of all her prodigious wealth, and the title and dignity of

Duke and Peer of Montpensier. What a monstrous pedestal! And with

children by this marriage, what a flight might not Lauzun have taken, and

who can say where he might have arrived?


^ CHAPTER CXVIII


I have elsewhere related Lauzun's humours, his notable wanton tricks, and

his rare singularity.


He enjoyed, during the rest of his long life, intimacy with the King,

distinction at the Court, great consideration, extreme abundance, kept up

the state of a great nobleman, with one of the most magnificent houses of

the Court, and the best table, morning and evening, most honourably

frequented, and at Paris the same, after the King's death: All this did

not content him. He could only approach the King with outside

familiarity; he felt that the mind and the heart of that monarch were on

their guard against him, and in an estrangement that not all his art nor

all his application could ever overcome. This is what made him marry my

sister-in-law, hoping thus to re-establish himself in serious intercourse

with the King by means of the army that M. le Marechal de Lorge commanded

in Germany; but his project failed, as has been seen. This is what made

him bring about the marriage of the Duc de Lorge with the daughter of

Chamillart, in order to reinstate himself by means of that ministry;

but without success. This is what made him undertake the journey to Aix-

la-Chapelle, under the pretext of the waters, to obtain information which

might lead to private interviews with the King, respecting the peace;

but he was again unsuccessful. All his projects failed; in fact, he

unceasingly sorrowed, and believed himself in profound disgrace--even

saying so. He left nothing undone in order to pay his court, at bottom

with meanness, but externally with dignity; and he every year celebrated

a sort of anniversary of his disgrace, by extraordinary acts, of which

ill-humour and solitude were oftentimes absurdly the fruit. He himself

spoke of it, and used to say that he was not rational at the annual

return of this epoch, which was stronger than he. He thought he pleased

the King by this refinement of attention, without perceiving he was

laughed at.


By nature he was extraordinary in everything, and took pleasure in

affecting to be more so, even at home, and among his valets. He

counterfeited the deaf and the blind, the better to see and hear without

exciting suspicion, and diverted himself by laughing at fools, even the

most elevated, by holding with them a language which had no sense. His

manners were measured, reserved, gentle, even respectful; and from his

low and honeyed tongue, came piercing remarks, overwhelming by their

justice, their force, or their satire, composed of two or three words,

perhaps, and sometimes uttered with an air of naivete or of distraction,

as though he was not thinking of what he said. Thus he was feared,

without exception, by everybody, and with many acquaintances he had few

or no friends, although he merited them by his ardor in seeing everybody

as much as he could, and by his readiness in opening his purse. He liked

to gather together foreigners of any distinction, and perfectly did the

honours of the Court. But devouring ambition poisoned his life; yet he

was a very good and useful relative.


During the summer which followed the death of Louis XIV. there was a

review of the King's household troops, led by M. le Duc d'Orleans, in the

plain by the side of the Bois de Boulogne. Passy, where M. de Lauzun had

a pretty house, is on the other side. Madame de Lauzun was there with

company, and I slept there the evening before the review. Madame de

Poitiers, a young widow, and one of our relatives, was there too, and was

dying to see the review, like a young person who has seen nothing, but

who dares not show herself in public in the first months of her mourning.


How she could be taken was discussed in the company, and it was decided

that Madame de Lauzun could conduct her a little way, buried in her

carriage. In the midst of the gaiety of this party, M. de Lauzun arrived

from Paris, where he had gone in the morning. He was told what had just

been decided. As soon as he learnt it he flew into a fury, was no longer

master of himself, broke off the engagement, almost foaming at the mouth;

said the most disagreeable things to his wife in the strongest, the

harshest, the most insulting, and the most foolish terms. She gently

wept; Madame de Poitiers sobbed outright, and all the company felt the

utmost embarrassment. The evening appeared an age, and the saddest

refectory repast a gay meal by the side of our supper. He was wild in

the midst of the profoundest silence; scarcely a word was said. He

quitted the table, as usual, at the fruit, and went to bed. An attempt

was made to say something afterwards by way of relief, but Madame de

Lauzun politely and wisely stopped the conversation, and brought out

cards in order to turn the subject.


The next morning I went to M. de Lauzun, in order to tell him in plain

language my opinion of the scene of the previous evening. I had not the

time. As soon as he saw me enter he extended his arms, and cried that I

saw a madman, who did not deserve my visit, but an asylum; passed the

strongest eulogies upon his wife (which assuredly she merited), said he

was not worthy of her, and that he ought to kiss the ground upon which

she walked; overwhelmed himself with blame; then, with tears in his eyes,

said he was more worthy of pity than of anger; that he must admit to me

all his shame and misery; that he was more than eighty years of age; that

he had neither children nor survivors; that he had been captain of the

guards; that though he might be so again, he should be incapable of the

function; that he unceasingly said this to himself, and that yet with all

this he could not console himself for having been so no longer during the

many years since he had lost his post; that he had never been able to

draw the dagger from his heart; that everything which recalled the memory

of the past made him beside himself, and that to hear that his wife was

going to take Madame de Poitiers to see a review of the body-guards, in

which he now counted for nothing, had turned his head, and had rendered

him wild to the extent I had seen; that he no longer dared show himself

before any one after this evidence of madness; that he was going to lock

himself up in his chamber, and that he threw himself at my feet in order

to conjure me to go and find his wife, and try to induce her to take pity

on and pardon a senseless old man, who was dying with grief and shame.

This admission, so sincere and so dolorous to make, penetrated me. I

sought only to console him and compose him. The reconciliation was not

difficult; we drew him from his chamber, not without trouble, and he

evinced during several days as much disinclination to show himself, as I

was told, for I went away in the evening, my occupations keeping me very

busy.


I have often reflected, apropos of this, upon the extreme misfortune of

allowing ourselves to be carried away by the intoxication of the world,

and into the formidable state of an ambitious man, whom neither riches

nor comfort, neither dignity acquired nor age, can satisfy, and who,

instead of tranquilly enjoying what he possesses, and appreciating the

happiness of it, exhausts himself in regrets, and in useless and

continual bitterness. But we die as we have lived, and 'tis rare it

happens otherwise. This madness respecting the captaincy of the guards

so cruelly dominated M. de Lauzun, that he often dressed himself in a

blue coat, with silver lace, which, without being exactly the uniform of

the captain of, the body-guards, resembled it closely, and would have

rendered him ridiculous if he had not accustomed people to it, made

himself feared, and risen above all ridicule.


With all his scheming and cringing he fell foul of everybody, always

saying some biting remark with dove-like gentleness. Ministers,

generals, fortunate people and their families, were the most ill-treated.

He had, as it were, usurped the right of saying and doing what he

pleased; nobody daring to be angry with him. The Grammonts alone were

excepted. He always remembered the hospitality and the protection he had

received from them at the outset of his life. He liked them; he

interested himself in them; he was in respect before them. Old Comte

Grammont took advantage of this and revenged the Court by the sallies he

constantly made against Lauzun, who never returned them or grew angry,

but gently avoided him. He always did a good deal for the children of

his sisters.


During the plague the Bishop of Marseilles had much signalised himself by

wealth spent and danger incurred. When the plague had completely passed

away, M. de Lauzun asked M. le Duc d'Orleans for an abbey for the Bishop.

The Regent gave away some livings soon after, and forgot M. de

Marseilles. Lauzun pretended to be ignorant of it, and asked M. le Duc

d'Orleans if he had had the goodness to remember him. The Regent was

embarrassed. The Duc de Lauzun, as though to relieve him from his

embarrassment, said, in a gentle and respectful tone, "Monsieur, he will

do better another time," and with this sarcasm rendered the Regent dumb,

and went away smiling. The story got abroad, and M. le Duc d'Orleans

repaired his forgetfulness by the bishopric of Laon, and upon the refusal

of M. de Marseilles to change, gave him a fat abbey.


M. de Lauzun hindered also a promotion of Marshal of France by the

ridicule he cast upon the candidates. He said to the Regent, with that

gentle and respectful tone he knew so well how to assume, that in case

any useless Marshals of France (as he said) were made, he begged his

Royal Highness to remember that he was the oldest lieutenant-general of

the realm, and that he had had the honour of commanding armies with the

patent of general. I have elsewhere related other of his witty remarks.

He could not keep them in; envy and jealousy urged him to utter them, and

as his bon-mots always went straight to the point, they were always much

repeated.


We were on terms of continual intimacy; he had rendered me real solid

friendly services of himself, and I paid him all sorts of respectful

attentions, and he paid me the same. Nevertheless, I did not always

escape his tongue; and on one occasion, he was perhaps within an inch of

doing me much injury by it.


The King (Louis XIV.) was declining; Lauzun felt it, and began to think

of the future. Few people were in favour with M. le Duc d'Orleans;

nevertheless, it was seen that his grandeur was approaching. All eyes

were upon him, shining with malignity, consequently upon me, who for a

long time had been the sole courtier who remained publicly attached to

him, the sole in his confidence. M. de Lauzun came to dine at my house,

and found us at table. The company he saw apparently displeased him; for

he went away to Torcy, with whom I had no intimacy, and who was also at

table, with many people opposed to M. le Duc d'Orleans, Tallard, among

others, and Tesse.


"Monsieur," said Lauzun to Torcy, with a gentle and timid air, familiar

to him, "take pity upon me, I have just tried to dine with M. de Saint-

Simon. I found him at table, with company; I took care not to sit down

with them, as I did not wish to be the 'zeste' of the cabal. I have come

here to find one."


They all burst out laughing. The remark instantly ran over all

Versailles. Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine at once heard it, and

nevertheless no sign was anywhere made. To have been angry would only

have been to spread it wider: I took the matter as the scratch of an ill-

natured cat, and did not allow Lauzun to perceive that I knew it.


Two or three years before his death he had an illness which reduced him

to extremity. We were all very assiduous, but he would see none of us,

except Madame de Saint-Simon, and her but once. Languet, cure of Saint-

Sulpice, often went to him, and discoursed most admirably to him. One

day, when he was there, the Duc de la Force glided into the chamber:

M. de Lauzun did not like him at all, and often laughed at him. He

received him tolerably well, and continued to talk aloud with the cure.


Suddenly he turned to the cure, complimented and thanked him, said he had

nothing more valuable to give him than his blessing, drew his arm from

the bed, pronounced the blessing, and gave it to him. Then turning to

the Duc de la Force, Lauzun said he had always loved and respected him as

the head of his house, and that as such he asked him for his blessing.


These two men, the cure and the Duc de la Force, were astonished, could

not utter a word. The sick man redoubled his instances. M. de la Force,

recovering himself, found the thing so amusing, that he gave his

blessing; and in fear lest he should explode, left the room, and came to

us in the adjoining chamber, bursting with laughter, and scarcely able to

relate what had happened to him.


A moment after, the cure came also, all abroad, but smiling as much as

possible, so as to put a good face on the matter. Lauzun knew that he

was ardent and skilful in drawing money from people for the building of a

church, and had often said he would never fall into his net; he suspected

that the worthy cure's assiduities had an interested motive, and laughed

at him in giving him only his blessing (which he ought to have received

from him), and in perseveringly asking the Duc de la Force for his. The

cure, who saw the point of the joke, was much mortified, but, like a

sensible man, he was not less frequent in his visits to M. de Lauzun

after this; but the patient cut short his visits, and would not

understand the language he spoke.


Another day, while he was still very ill, Biron and his wife made bold to

enter his room on tiptoe, and kept behind his curtains, out of sight, as

they thought; but he perceived them by means of the glass on the chimney-

piece. Lauzun liked Biron tolerably well, but Madame Biron not at all;

she was, nevertheless, his niece, and his principal heiress; he thought

her mercenary, and all her manners insupportable to him. In that he was

like the rest of the world. He was shocked by this unscrupulous entrance

into his chamber, and felt that, impatient for her inheritance, she came

in order to make sure of it, if he should die directly. He wished to

make her repent of this, and to divert himself at her expense. He

begins, therefore; to utter aloud, as though believing himself alone, an

ejaculatory orison, asking pardon of God for his past life, expressing

himself as though persuaded his death was nigh, and saying that, grieved

at his inability to do penance, he wishes at least to make use of all the

wealth he possesses, in order to redeem his sins, and bequeath that

wealth to the hospitals without any reserve; says it is the sole road to

salvation left to him by God, after having passed a long life without

thinking of the future; and thanks God for this sole resource left him,

which he adopts with all his heart!


He accompanied this resolution with a tone so touched, so persuaded, so

determined, that Biron and his wife did not doubt for a moment he was

going to execute his design, or that they should be deprived of all the

succession. They had no desire to spy any more, and went, confounded, to

the Duchesse de Lauzun, to relate to her the cruel decree they had just

heard pronounced, conjuring her to try and moderate it. Thereupon the

patient sent for the notaries, and Madame Biron believed herself lost.

It was exactly the design of the testator to produce this idea. He made

the notaries wait; then allowed them to enter, and dictated his will,

which was a death-blow to Madame de Biron. Nevertheless, he delayed

signing it, and finding himself better and better, did not sign it at

all. He was much diverted with this farce, and could not restrain his

laughter at it, when reestablished. Despite his age, and the gravity of

his illness, he was promptly cured and restored to his usual health.


He was internally as strong as a lion, though externally very delicate.

He dined and supped very heartily every day of an excellent and very

delicate cheer, always with good company, evening and morning; eating of

everything, 'gras' and 'maigre', with no choice except that of his taste

and no moderation. He took chocolate in the morning, and had always on

the table the fruits in season, and biscuits; at other times beer, cider,

lemonade, and other similar drinks iced; and as he passed to and fro, ate

and drank at this table every afternoon, exhorting others to do the same.

In this way he left table or the fruit, and immediately went to bed.


I recollect that once, among others, he ate at my house, after his

illness, so much fish, vegetables, and all sorts of things (I having no

power to hinder him), that in the evening we quietly sent to learn

whether he had not felt the effects of them. He was found at table

eating with good appetite.


His gallantry was long faithful to him. Mademoiselle was jealous of it,

and that often controlled him. I have heard Madame de Fontenelles ( a

very enviable woman, of much intelligence, very truthful, and of singular

virtue), I have heard her say, that being at Eu with Mademoiselle,

M. de Lauzun came there and could not desist from running after the

girls; Mademoiselle knew it, was angry, scratched him, and drove him from

her presence. The Comtesse de Fiesque reconciled them. Mademoiselle

appeared at the end of a long gallery; Lauzun was at the other end, and

he traversed the whole length of it on his knees until he reached the

feet of Mademoiselle. These scenes, more or less moving, often took

place afterwards. Lauzun allowed himself to be beaten, and in his turn

soundly beat Mademoiselle; and this happened several times, until at

last, tired of each other, they quarrelled once for all and never saw

each other again; he kept several portraits of her, however, in his house

or upon him, and never spoke of her without much respect. Nobody doubted

they had been secretly married. At her death he assumed a livery almost

black, with silver lace; this he changed into white with a little blue

upon gold, when silver was prohibited upon liveries.


His temper, naturally scornful and capricious, rendered more so by prison

and solitude, had made him a recluse and dreamer; so that having in his

house the best of company, he left them to Madame de Lauzun, and withdrew

alone all the afternoon, several hours running, almost always without

books, for he read only a few works of fancy--a very few--and without

sequence; so that he knew nothing except what he had seen, and until the

last was exclusively occupied with the Court and the news of the great

world. I have a thousand times regretted his radical incapacity to write

down what he had seen and done. It would have been a treasure of the

most curious anecdotes, but he had no perseverance, no application. I

have often tried to draw from him some morsels. Another misfortune. He

began to relate; in the recital names occurred of people who had taken

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