Grand, but that of misfortune, of weakness, of infirmity, and
of age ; and I forgot at once, in that reflection, what otherwise
would have blunted my sentiments of deference, namely, the
crimes of his ministers and the exactions of his reign. En-
deavouring to collect my mind from an embarrassment which
surprised myself, I lifted my eyes towards the King, and saw
a countenance where the trace of the superb beauty for which
his manhood had been celebrated still lingered, broken, not
destroyed, and borrowing a dignity even more imposing from
the marks of Encroaching years and from the evident exhaus-
tion of suffering and disease.
Fleuri said, in a low tone, something which my ear did not
catch. There was a pause, — only a moment's pause; and
then, in a voice, the music of which I had hitherto deemed
exaggerated, the King spoke; and in that voice there was
something so kind and encouraging that I felt reassured at
once. Perhaps its tone was not the less conciliating from the
evident effect which the royal presence had produced upon
"You have given us. Count Devereux," said the King, "a
pleasure which we are glad, in person, to acknowledge to you.
And it has seemed to us fitting that the country in which your
brave father acquired his fame should also be the asylum of
"Sire," answered I, "Sire, it shall not be my fault if that
country is not henceforth my own; and in inheriting my
father's name, I inherit also his gratitude and his ambition."
" It is well said, Sir, " said the King ; and I once more raised
my eyes, and perceived that his were bent upon me. " It is
well said, " he repeated after a short pause ; " and in granting
to you this audience, we were not unwilling to hope that you
Avere desirous to attach yourself to our coiirt. The times do
not require " (here I thought the old King's voice was not so
firm as before) "the manifestation of your zeal in the same
career as that in which your father gained laurels to France
and to himself. But we will not neglect to find employment
for your abilities, if not for your sword."
"That sword which was given to me, Sire," said I, "by
your ^Majesty, shall be ever drawn (against all nations but
one) at your command; and, in being your Majesty's peti-
tioner for future favours, I only seek some channel through
which to evince my gratitude for the past."
"We do not doubt," said Louis, "that whatever be the
number of the ungrateful we may make by testifying our good
pleasure on your behalf, you will not be among the number."
The King here made a slight but courteous inclination and
turned round. The observant Bishop of Frejus, who had
retired to a little distance and who knew that the King never
liked talking more than he could help it, gave me a signal.
I obeyed, and backed, with all due deference, out of the royal
So closed my interview with Louis XIV. Although his
Majesty did not indulge in prolixity, I spoke of him for a
long time afterwards as the most eloquent of men. Believe
me, there is no orator like a king; one word from a royal
mouth stirs the heart more than Demosthenes could have
done. There was a deep moral in that custom of the ancients,
by which the Goddess of Persuasion was always represented
with a diadem on her head.
REFLECTIONS. A SOIREE. THE APPEARANCE OF ONE IMPOR-
TANT IN THE HISTORY. A CONVERSATION WITH MADAME
DE BALZAC HIGHLY SATISFACTORY AND CHEERING. A REN-
CONTRE WITH A CURIOUS OLD SOLDIER. THE EXTINCTION
OF A ONCE GREAT LUMINARY.
I HAD now been several weeks at Paris; I had neither
eagerly sought nor sedulously avoided its gayeties. It is not
that one violent sorrow leaves us without power of enjoy-
ment; it only lessens the power, and deadens the enjoyment:
it does not take away from us the objects of life; it only
forestalls the more indifferent calmness of age. The blood
no longer flows in an irregular but delicious course of vivid
and Avild emotion; the step no longer spurns the earth; nor
does the ambition wander, insatiable, yet undefined, over the
million paths of existence : but we lose not our old capacities ;
they are quieted, not extinct. The heart can never utterly
and long be dormant : trifles may not charm it any more, nor
levities delight ; but its pulse has not yet ceased to beat. We
survey the scene that moves around, with a gaze no longer
distracted by every hope that flutters by ; and it is therefore
that we find ourselves more calculated than before for the
graver occupations of our race. The overflowing tempera-
ment is checked to its proper level, the ambition bounded to
its prudent and lawful goal. The earth is no longer so green,
nor the heaven so blue, nor the fancy that stirs Avithin us so
rich in its creations; but we look more narrowly on the living
crowd, and more rationally on the aims of men. The misfor-
tune which has changed us has only adapted us the better to
a climate in which misfortune is a portion of the air. The
grief that has thralled our spirit to a more narrow and dark
cell has also been a change that has linked us to mankind
with a strength of which we dreamed not in the day of a
wilder freedom and more luxuriant aspirings. In later life,
a new spirit, partaking of that which was our earliest, returns
to us. The solitude which delighted us in youth, but which,
when the thoughts that make solitude a fairy land are dark-
ened by affliction, becomes a fearful and sombre void, resumes
its old spell, as the more morbid and urgent memory of that
affliction crumbles away by time. Content is a hermit; but
so also is Apathy. Youth loves the solitary couch, which it
surrounds with dreams. Age, or Experience (which is the
mind's age), loves the same couch for the rest which it af-
fords; but the wide interval between is that of exertion, of
labour, and of labour among men. The woe which makes our
hearts less social, often makes our habits more so. The
thoughts, which in calm would have shunned the world, are
driven upon it by the tempest, even as the birds which for-
sake the habitable land can, so long as the wind sleeps and
the thunder rests within its cloud, become the constant and
solitary brooders over the waste sea: but the moment the
storm awakes and the blast pursues them, they fly, by an
overpowering instinct, to some wandering bark, some ves-
tige of human and social life; and exchange, even for danger
from the hands of men, the desert of an angry Heaven and
the solitude of a storm.
I heard no more either of Madame de Maintenon or the King.
Meanwhile, my flight and friendship with Lord Bolingbroke
had given me a consequence in the eyes of the exiled Prince
which I should not otherwise have enjoyed; and I was hon-
oured by very flattering overtures to enter actively into his
service. I have before said that I felt no enthusiasm in his
cause, and I was far from feeling it for his person. My am-
bition rather directed its hope towards a career in the service
of France. France was the country of my birth, and the
country of my father's fame. There no withering remem-
brances awaited me; no private regrets were associated with
its scenes, and no public penalties with its political institu-
tions. And although I had not yet received any token of
Louis's remembrance, in the ordinary routine of court fa-
vours expectation as yet would have been premature; be-
sides, his royal fidelity to his word was proverbial; and,
sooner or later, I indulged the hope to profit by the sort of
promise he had insinuated to me. I declined, therefore, with
all due respect, the offers of the Chevalier, and continued to
live the life of idleness and expectation, until Lord Boling-
broke returned to Paris, and accepted the office of secretary
of state in the service of the Chevalier. As he has publicly
declared his reasons in this step, I do not mean to favour the
world with his private conversations on the same subject.
A day or two after his return, I went with him to a party
given by a member of the royal family. The first person by
whom we were accosted — and I rejoiced at it, for we could
not have been accosted by a more amusing one — was Count
"Ah! my Lord Bolingbroke, " said he, sauntering up to us;
"how are you? — delighted to see you again. Do look at
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans! Saw you ever such a creat-
ure? Whither are you moving, my Lord? Ah! see him,
Count, see him, gliding off to that pretty duchess, of course ;
well, he has a beautiful bow, it must be owned ; why, you are
not going too? — what would the world say if Count Anthony
Hamilton were seen left to himself? No, no, come and sit
down by Madame de Cornuel : she longs to be introduced to
you, and is one of the wittiest women in Europe."
"With all my heart! provided she employs her wit ill-
naturedly, and uses it in ridiculing other people, not prais-
"Oh! nobody can be more satirical; indeed, what difference
is there between wit and satire? Come, Count! "
And Hamilton introduced me forthwith to Madame de Cor-
nuel. She received me very politely; and, turning to two or
three people who formed the circle round her, said, with the
greatest composure, " Messieurs, oblige me by seeking some
other object of attraction; I wish to have a private conference
with my new friend."
"I may stay?" said Hamilton.
" Ah ! certainly ; you are never in the way. "
"In that respect, Madame," said Hamilton, taking snuff,
and bowing very low, "in that respect, I must strongly re-
mind you of your excellent husband."
" Fie ! " cried Madame de Cornuel ; then, turning to me, she
said, "Ah! Monsieur, if you could have come to Paris some
years ago, you would have been enchanted with us : we are
sadly changed. Imagine the fine old King thinking it wicked
not to hear plays, but to hear players act them, and so mak-
ing the royal family a company of comedians. Mon Dieu !
how villanously they perform ! but do you know why I wished
to be introduced to you? "
"Yes! in order to have a new listener: old listeners must
be almost as tedious as old news."
" Very shrewdly said, and not far from the truth. The fact
is, that I wanted to talk about all these fine people present
to some one for whose ear my anecdotes would have the charm
of novelty. Let us begin with Louis Armand, Prince of
Conti; you see him."
"What, that short-sighted, stout, and rather handsome
man, with a cast of countenance somewhat like the pictures
of Henri Quatre, who is laughing so merrily?"
" del! how droll! No! that handsome man is no less a
person than the Due d'Orleans. You see a little ugly thing
like an anatomized ape, — there, see, — he has just thrown
down a chair, and, in stooping to pick it up, has almost
fallen over the Dutch ambassadress, — that is Louis Armand,
Prince of Conti. Do you know what the Due d'Orleans said
to him the other day? '■Man bon ami,' he said, pointing
to the prince's limbs (did you ever see such limbs out of a
menagerie, by the by?) '}non bon ami, it is a fine thing
for you that the Psalmist has assured us "that the Lord
delighteth not in any man's legs." ' Nay, don't laugh, it is
quite true ! "
It was now for Count Hamilton to take up the ball of
satire ; he was not a whit more merciful than the kind Madame
de Cornuel. "The Prince," said he, "has so exquisite an
awkwardness that, whenever the King hears a noise, and in-
quires the cause, the invariable answer is that 'the Prince of
Conti has just tumbled down ' ! But, tell me, what do you
think of Madame d'Aumont? She is in the English head-
dress, and looks triste a la mort."
"She is rather pretty, to my taste."
"Yes," cried Madame de Cornuel, interrupting the gentle
Antoine (it did one's heart good to see how strenuously each
of them tried to talk more scandal than the other), "yes, she
is thought very pretty; but I think her very like a frica7ideau,
— white, soft, and insipid. She is always in tears," added
the good-natured Cornuel, "after her prayers, both at morn-
ing and evening. I asked why; and she answered, pretty
simpleton, that she was always forced to pray to be made
good, and she feared Heaven would take her at her word!
However, she has many worshippers, and they call her the
" They should rather call her the Hyades ! " said Hamilton,
" if it be true that she sheds tears every morning and night,
and her rising and setting are thus always attended by rain."
"Bravo, Count Antoine! she shall be so called in future,"
said Madame de Cornuel. "But now. Monsieur Devereux,
turn your eyes to that hideous old woman."
"What! the Duchesse d'Orleans?"
" The same. She is in full dress to-night ; but in the day-
time you generally see her in a riding habit and a man's wig;
she is — "
"Hist! " interrupted Hamilton; "do you not tremble to
think what she would do if she overheard you? she is such a
terrible creature at fighting ! You have no conception, Count,
what an arm she has. She knows her ugliness, and laughs at
it, as all the rest of the world does. The King took her hand
one day, and said smiling, 'What could Nature have meant
when she gave this hand to a German princess instead of a
Dutch peasant?' 'Sire,' said the Duchesse, very gravely,
'Nature gave this hand to a German princess for the purpose
of boxing the ears of her ladies in waiting ! ' "
"Ha! ha! ha!" said Madame de Cornuel, laughing; "one
is never at a loss for jokes upon a woman who eats salade au
lard, and declares that, whenever she is unhappy, her only
consolation is ham and sausasres! Her son treats her with
the greatest respect, and consults her in all his amours, for
which she professes the greatest horror, and which she retails
to her correspondents all over the world, in letters as long as
her pedigree. But you are looking at her son, is he not of a
"Yes, pretty well; but does not exhibit to advantage by
the side of Lord Bolingbroke, with whom he is now talking.
Pray, who is the third personage that has just joined them?"
"Oh, the wretch! it is the Abbe Dubois; a living proof of
the folly of the French proverb, which says that Mercuries
should not be made du hois. Never was there a Mercury
equal to the Abbe, — but, do look at that old man to the left,
— he is one of the most remarkable persons of the age."
"What! he Avith the small features, and comely counte-
nance, considering his years?"
"The same," said Hamilton; "it is the notorious Choisi.
You know that he is the modern Tiresias, and has been a
woman as well as man."
"How do you mean?"
" Ah, you may well ask ! " cried Madame de Cornuel. " Why,
he lived for many years in the disguise of a woman, and had
all sorts of curious adventures."
" Mort Diahle ! " cried Hamilton ; " it was entering your
ranks, Madame, as a spy. I hear he makes but a sorry report
of what he saw there."
"Come, Count Antoine," cried the lively de Cornuel, "we
must not turn our weapons against each other; and when you
attack a Avoman's sex you attack her individually. But what
makes you look so intently. Count Devereux, at that ugly
The person thus flatteringly designated was Montreuil-, he
had just caught my eye, among a group of men who were
"Hush! Madame," said I, "spare me for a moment; " and I
rose, and mingled with the Abbe's companions. "So, you
have only arrived to-day," I heard one of them say to him,
"No, I could not despatch my business before."
"And how are matters in England? "
" Ripe ! if the life of his Majesty (of France) be spared a
year longer, we will send the Elector of Hanover back to his
"Hist!" said the companion, and looked towards me.
Montreuil ceased abruptly: our eyes met; his fell. I af-
fected to look among the group as if I had expected to find
there some one I knew, and then, turning away, I seated my-
self alone and apart. There, unobserved, I kept my looks on
Montreuil. I remarked that, from time to time, his keen
dark eye glanced towards me, with a look rather expressive
of vigilance than anything else. Soon afterwards his little
knot dispersed; I saw him converse for a few moments with
Dubois, who received him I thought distantly; and then he
was engaged in a long conference with the Bishop of Frejus,
whom, till then, I had not perceived among the crowd.
As I was loitering on the staircase, where I saw Montreuil
depart with the Bishop, in thfi carriage of the latter, Hamil-
ton, accosting me, insisted on my accompanying him to Chau-
lieu's, where a late supper awaited the sons of wine and wit.
However, to the good Count's great astonishment, I preferred
solitude and reflection, for that night, to anything else.
Montreuil's visit to the French capital boded me no good.
He possessed great influence with Fleuri, and was in high
esteem with Madame de Maintenon, and, in effect, very shortly
after his return to Paris, the Bishop of Frejus looked upon
me with a most cool sort of benignancy ; and Madame de Main-
tenon told her friend, the Duchesse de St. Simon, that it was
a great pity a young nobleman of my birth and prepossessing
appearance (ay! my prepossessing appearance would never
have occurred to the devotee, if I had not seemed so sensible
of her own) should not only be addicted to the wildest dissi-
pation, but, worse still, to Jansenistical tenets. After this
there was no hope for me save in the King's word, which his
increasing infirmities, naturally engrossing his attention, pre-
vented my hoping too sanguinely would dwell very acutely on
his remembrance. I believe, however, so religiously scrupu-
lous was Louis upon a point of honour that, had he lived, I
should have had nothing to complain of. As it was — but I
anticipate! Montreuil disappeared from Paris, almost as
suddenly as he had appeared there. And, as drowning men
catch at a straw, so, finding my affairs at a very low ebb, I
thought I would take advice, even from Madame de Balzac.
I accordingly repaired to her hotel. She was at home, and,
" You are welcome, mon jils, " said she ; " suffer me to give
you that title : you are welcome ; it is some days since I saw
"I have numbered them, I assure you, Madame," said I,
"and they have crept with a dull pace; but you know that
business has claims as well as pleasure ! "
"True!" said Madame de Balzac, pompously: "I myself
find the weight of politics a little insupportable, though so
used to it; to your young brain I can readily imagine how
irksome it must be ! "
" Would, Madame, that I could obtain your experience by
contagion ; as it is, I fear that I have profited little by my
visit to his Majest3\ Madame de Maintenon will not see me,
and the Bishop of Frejus (excellent man!) has been seized
with a sudden paralysis of memory whenever I present my-
self in his way."
"That party will never do, — I thought not," said Madame
de Balzac, who was a wonderful imitator of the fly on the
•wheel; "my celebrity, and the knowledge that / loved you
for your father's sake, were, I fear, sufficient to destroy your
interest with the Jesuits and their tools. Well, well, we
must repair the mischief we have occasioned you. What
place would suit you best?"
" Why, anything diplomatic. I would rather travel, at my
age, than remain in luxury and indolence even at Paris ! "
"Ah, nothing like diplomacy!" said Madame de Balzac,
with the air of a Richelieu, and emptying her snuff-box at a
pinch; "but have you, my son, the requisite qualities for
that science, as well as the tastes? Are you capable of in-
trigue? Can you say one thing and mean another? Are
you aware of the immense consequence of a look or a bow?
Can you live like a spider, in the centre of an inexplicable
net — inexplicable as well as dangerous — to all but the
weaver? That, my son, is the art of politics; that is to be
a diplomatist ! "
"Perhaps, to one less penetrating than Madame de Balzac,"
answered I, " I might, upon trial, not appear utterly ignorant
of the noble art of state duplicity which she has so eloquently
"Possibly! " said the good lady; "it must indeed be a pro-
found dissimulator to deceive me."
"But what would you advise me to do in the present crisis?
What party to adopt, what individual to flatter? "
Nothing, I already discovered and have already observed,
did the inestimable Madame de Balzac dislike more than a
downright question : she never answered it,
"Why, really," said she, preparing herself for a long
speech, " I am quite glad you consult me, and I will give you
the best advice in my power. J^coutez done; you have seen
the Due de Maine?"
" Hum ! ha ! it would be wise to follow him ; but — you take
me — you understand. Then, you know, my son, there is the
Due d'Orleans, fond of pleasure, full of talent; but you know
— there is a little — what do you call it? you understand. As
for the Due de Bourbon, 't is quite a simpleton ; nevertheless
we must consider: nothing like consideration; believe me, no
diplomatist ever hurries. As for Madame de Maintenon, you
know, and I know too, that the Duchesse d'Orleans calls her
an old hag; but then — a word to the wise — eh? — what
shall we say to Madame the Duchess herself ? — what a fat
woman she is, but excessively clever, — such a letter writer!
— Well — you see, my dear young friend, that it is a very
difficult matter to decide upon, — but you must already be
fully aware what plan I should advise."
"To be sure! What have I been saying to you all this
time? — did you not hear me? Shall I repeat my advice? "
"Oh, no! I perfectly comprehend you now; you would ad-
vise me — in short — to — to — do — as well as I can. "
"You have said it, my son. I thought you would under-
stand me on a little reflection."
"To be sure, — to be sure," said I.
And three ladies being announced, my conference with
Madame de Balzac ended.
I now resolved to wait a little till the tides of power seemed
somewhat more settled, and I could ascertain in what quarter
to point my bark of enterprise. I gave myself rather more
eagerly to society, in proportion as my political schemes were
suffered to remain torpid. My mind could not remain quiet,
without preying on itself; and no evil appeared to me so great
as tranquillity. Thus the spring and earlier summer passed
on, till, in August, the riots preceding the Rebellion broke
out in Scotland. At this time I saw but little of Lord Boling-
broke in private; though, with his characteristic affectation,
he took care that the load of business with which he was
really oppressed should not prevent his enjoyment of all gay-
eties in public. And my indifference to the cause of the
Chevalier, in which he was so warmly engaged, threw a nat-
ural restraint upon our conversation, and produced an invol-
untary coldness in our intercourse: so impossible is it for
men to be private friends who differ on a public matter.
One evening I was engaged to meet a large party at a coun-
try-house about forty miles from Paris. I went, and stayed
some days. My horses had accompanied me; and, when I
left the chateau, I resolved to make the journey to Paris on
horseback. Accordingly, I ordered ray carriage to follow me,
and attended by a single groom, commenced my expedition.
It was a beautiful still morning, — the first day of the first
month of autumn. I had proceeded about ten miles, when I
fell in with an old French officer. I remember, — though I
never saw him but that once, — I remember his face as if
I had encountered it yesterday. It was thin and long, and
yellow enough to have served as a caricature rather than a
portrait of Don Quixote. He had a hook nose, and a long
sharp chin; and all the lines, wrinkles, curves, and furrows
of which the human visage is capable seemed to have met in
his cheeks. Nevertheless, his eye was bright and keen, his
look alert, and his whole bearing firm, gallant, and soldier-
like. He was attired in a sort of military undress; wore a
mustachio, which, though thin and gray, was carefully curled ;
and at the summit of a very respectable wig was perched a
small cocked hat, adorned with a black feather. He rode
very upright in his saddle; and his horse, a steady, stalwart
quadruped of the Norman breed, with a terribly long tail and
a prodigious breadth of chest, put one stately leg before an-