Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton.

The Duchess de la Vallière : a play in five acts online

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LAUZUN.

First, then, Athene, you've an outward frankness.
Deceit in you looks honester than truth.
Thoughts, at a court, like faces on the stage,
Require some rouge. You rouge your thoughts

so well

That one would deem their only fault, that nature
Gave them too bright a bloom !






SCENE i.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 69
MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Proceed !

LAUZUN.

Your wit,

Is of the true court breed it plays with nothings ;
Just bright enough to warm, but never burn
Excites the dull, but ne'er offends the vain.
You have much energy ; it looks like feeling !
Your cold ambition seems an easy impulse ;
Your head most ably counterfeits the heart,
But never, like the heart, betrays itself !
Oh ! you'll succeed at court ! you see I know

you !
Not so this new-made Duchess young La Valliere.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

The weak, fond, fool !

LAUZUN.

Yes, weak she has a heart ;
Yet you, too, love the King !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

And she does not !

She loves but Louis I but love the King :
Pomp, riches, state, and power these who would
love not ?



70 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.
LAUZUN.

Bravo ! well said ! Oh, you'll succeed at court !

I knew it well ! it was for this I chose you

Induced your sapient lord to waste no more

Your beauty in the shade for this prepared

The Duchess to receive you to her bosom,

Her dearest friend ; for this have duly fed

The King's ear with your praise, and cleared your

way
To rule a sovereign and to share a throne.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

I know thou hast been my architect of power ;
And, when the pile is built

LAUZUN (with a smile.)

Could still o'erthrow it,
If thou couldst play the ingrate !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

I ! nay !

LAUZUN.

Hear me!

Each must have need of each. Long live the King !
Still let his temples ache beneath the crown.
But all that kings can give wealth, rank, and

power-
Must be for us the King's friend and his favourite.



SCENE i.] THE DUCHESS BE LA VALLlfiRE. 71



MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

But is it easy to supplant the Duchess ?
All love La Valliere ! Her meek nature shrinks
Ev'n from our homage ; and she wears her state
As if she pray'd the world to pardon greatness.

LAUZUN.

And thus destroys herself ! At court, Athene,
Vice, to win followers, takes the front of virtue,
And looks the dull plebeian things called moral
To scorn, until they blush to be unlike her.
Why is De Lauzun not her friend ? Why plotting
For a new rival ? Why ? Because De Lauzun
Wins not the power he looked for from her friend-
ship !
She keeps not old friends ! and she makes no new

ones !

For who would be a friend to one who deems it
A crime to ask his Majesty a favour ?
' Friends' is a phrase at Court that means Pro-
motion !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Her folly, I confess, would not be mine.
But, grant her faults the King still loves the
Duchess !



72 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

LAUZUN.

Since none are by, I'll venture on a treason,

And say, the King's a man ! and men will

change !

I have his ear, and you shall win his eye.
'Gainst a new face, and an experienced courtier,
What chance hath this poor, loving, simple woman ?
Besides, she has too much conscience for a king !
He likes not to look up, and feel how low,
Ev'n on the throne that overlooks the world,
His royal greatness dwarfs beside that heart
That never stooped to sin, save when it loved him !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

You're eloquent, my Lord !

LAUZUN.

Ah ! of such natures
You and I know but little ! (Aside.) This must

cease,

Or I shall all disclose my real aims !
(Aloud.) The King is with the Duchess ?

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Yes!

LAUZUN.

As yet
She doth suspect you not ?



SCENE i.J THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 73
MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Suspect ! the puppet !
No ; but full oft, her head upon my bosom,
Calls me her truest friend ! invites me ever
To amuse the King with my enlivening sallies,
And still breaks off, in sighing o'er the past,
To wish her spirit were as blithe as mine.,
And fears her Louis wearies of her sadness !

LAUZUN.

So, the plot ripens ! ere the King came hither,
I had prepared his royal pride to chafe
At that sad face, whose honest sorrow wears
Reproach unconsciously ! You'll learn the issue !
Now, then, farewell ! we understand each other !

[Exit Lauzun.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

And once I loved this man ! and still might love

him,

But that I love ambition ! Yes, my steps
Now need a guide ; but once upon the height,
And I will have no partner ! Thou, lord Duke,
With all thine insolent air of proud protection,
Thou shalt wait trembling on my nod, and bind
Thy fortune to my wheels ! O man ! vain man !
Well sung the poet, when this power of beauty



74 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

Heaven gave our sex, it gave the only sceptre
Which makes the world a slave ! And I will
wield it !

[Exit Madame de Montespan.



SCENE II.

The Scene opens and discovers the King and the Duchess
de la Valliere at chess.

LOUIS.
But one move more !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Not so ! I check the king !

LOUIS.

A vain attempt ! the king is too well guarded !
There, check again ! Your game is lost 1

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

As usual,

Ev'n from this mimic stage of war you rise
Ever the victor.

(They leave the table and advance.)



SCENE ii.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 75

LOUIS.

'Twere a fairer fortune,
My own Louise, to reconcile the vanquished !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE (sadly .)

My best-loved Louis !

LOUIS.

Why so sad a tone ?

Nay, smile, Louise ! love thinks himself aggrieved
If care cast shadows o'er the heart it seeks
To fill with cloudless sunshine ! Smile, Louise !
Ev'n unkind words were kinder than sad looks.
There now thou glad'st me !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Yet ev'n thou, methought,

Did'st wear, this morn, a brow on which the light
Shone less serenely than its wont !

LOUIS.

This morn !

Ay, it is true ! this morn I heard that France
Hath lost a subject monarchs well might mourn !
Oh ! little know the world how much a king,
Whose life is past in purchasing devotion,
Loses in one who merited all favour
And scorned to ask the least ! A king, Louise,
Sees but the lackeys of mankind. The true
Lords of our race the high chivalric hearts



76 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

Nature's nobility alas ! are proud,

And stand aloof, lest slaves should say they flatter !

Of such a mould was he whom France deplores.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Tell me his name 3 that I, with thee, may mourn
him.

LOUIS.

A noble name, but a more noble bearer ;
Not to be made by, but to make, a lineage.
Once, too, at Dunkirk, 'twixt me and the foe,
He thrust his gallant breast, already seared
With warrior- wounds, and his blood flowed for

mine.

Dead ! his just merits all unrecompensed !
Obscured, like sun-light, by the suppliant clouds !
He should have died a marshal ! Death did wrong
To strike so soon ! Alas, brave Bragelone !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Ha ! did I hear aright, my Liege my Louis ?
That name that name ! thou saidst not c Brage-
lone r

LOUIS.

Such was his name, not often heard at court.
Thou didst not know him ? What ! thou art pale !

thou weepest !
Thou art ill ! Louise, look up !

[He leads her to a seat.






SCENE ii.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLlfiRE. 77



DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Be still, O Conscience !
I did not slay him ! Died too soon ! Alas !
He should have died with all his hopes unblighted,
Ere I was what I am !

LOUIS.

What mean these words ?

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

How did death strike him ? what disease ?

LOUIS.

I know not.

He had retired from service ; and in peace
Breathed out his soul to some remoter sky !
France only guards his fame ! What was he to

thee
That thou shouldst weep for him ?

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Hast thou ne'er heard
We were betrothed in youth ?

LOUIS (agitated and aside.)

Lauzun speaks truth !
I'd not her virgin heart she lov'd another !
(Aloud.) Betrothed ! You mourn him deeply !



78 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.
DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Sire, I do !

That broken heart ! I was its dream its idol !
And with regret is mingled what repentance !

LOUIS (coldly.}
Repentance, Madam ! Well, the word is gracious !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Pardon ! oh, pardon ! But the blow was sudden ;
How can the heart play courtier with remorse ?

LOUIS.

Remorse ! again. Why be at once all honest,
And say you love me not !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Not love you, Louis ?

LOUIS.
Not if you feel repentance to have loved !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

What ! think'st thou, Louis, I should love thee more
Did I love virtue less, or less regret it ?

LOUIS.

I pray you truce with these heroic speeches ;
They please us in romance in life they weary.



SCENE ii.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE, 79
DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Louis, do I deserve this ?

LOUIS.

Rather, Lady,

Do I deserve the mute reproach of sorrow ?
Still less these constant, never-soothed complaints
This waiting- woman jargon of f lost virtue."

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Sire, this from you ?

LOUIS.

Why, oft could others hear thee
Well might they deem thee some poor village

Phoebe,

Whom her false Lubin had deceived, and left,
Robb'd of her only dower ! and not the great
Duchess la Valliere, in our realm of France
Second to none but our anointed race ;
The. envy of the beauty and the birth
Of Europe's court our city of the world !
Is it so great disgrace, Louise la Valliere,
To wear, unrivalled, in thy breast, the heart
Of Bourbon's latest, nor her least, of Kings.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Sire, when you deigned to love me, I had hoped
You knew the sunshine of your royal favour



80 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. (ACT m.

Had fallen on a lowly flower. Let others
Deem that the splendor consecrates the sin !
I'd loved thee with as pure and proud a love,
If thou hadst been the poorest cavalier
That ever served a King thou know'st it, Louis !

LOUIS.

I would not have it so ! my fame, my glory,

The purple and the orb, are part of me ;

And thou shouldst love them for my sake, and feel

I were not Louis were I less the King.

Still weeping ! Fie ! I tell thee tears freeze back

The very love I still would bear to thee !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Would < still /'didst thou say l still ?'

LOUIS.

Come, lady !

Woman, to keep her empire o'er the heart,
Must learn its nature mould unto its bias
And rule, by never differing from our humours.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

I'll school my features, teach my lips to smile,
Be all thou wilt ; but say not ' still, 1 dear Louis !



SCENE ii.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 81

LOUIS.

Well, well ! no further words ; let peace be with us.

(Aside.)

By Heaven, she weeps with yet intenser passion !
It must be that she loved this Bragelone,
And mourns the loftier fate that made x her mine !

(Aloud.)

This gallant soldier, Madam, your betrothed,
Hath some share in your tears ?

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Oh, name him not ;
My tears are all unworthy dews to fall
Upon a tomb so honoured !

LOUIS.

Grant me patience !

These scenes are very tedious, fair La Valliere.
In truth, we kings have, in the council chamber,
Enough to make us tearful ; in the bower
We would have livelier subjects to divert us.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Again forgive me ! I am sick at heart ;
I pray you pardon ; these sad news have marred
The music of your presence, and have made me
Fit but for solitude. I pray you, Sire,
Let me retire ; and when again I greet you,
I'll wear the mien you'd have me !

G



82 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT HI.

LOUIS.

Be it so !

Let me no more disturb you from your thoughts ;
They must be sad. So brave and your betrothed !
Your grief becomes you.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

You forgive me, Louis ?
We do not part unkindly ?

LOUIS.

Fair one, no !

[Exit La Valliere.

LOUIS.

She was my first love, and my fondest. Was I
Alas, the word must come ! I love her yet,
But love wanes glimmering to that twilight friend-
ship !

Grant that she never loved this Bragelone ;
Still, tears and sighs make up dull interludes
In passion's short-lived drama ! She is good,
Gentle, and meek, and I do think she loves me,
(A truth no King is sure of!) But, in fine,
I have begun to feel the hours are long
Pass'd in her presence ; what I hotly sought
Coldly I weary of. I'll seek De Lauzun :
I like his wit I almost like his knavery ;



SCENE in.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 83

It never makes us yawn, like high-flown virtues.
Thirst, hunger, rest these are the wants of pea-
sants :

A courtier's wants are titles, place, and gold ;
But a poor king, who has these wants so sated,
Has only one want left to be amused !

[Exit Louis.



SCENE III.
Re-enter the Duchess de la V oilier e.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Louis ! dear Louis ! Gone ! alas ! and left me
Half in displeasure ! I was wrong, methinks,
To no ! I was not wrong to feel remorse,
But wrong to give it utterance !

Enter Madame de Montespan.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

What ! alone,
Fair friend ? I thought the King

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Has gone, in anger ;

Cold, and in anger.

G 2



84 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT HI.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

What, with thee, dear Lady ?
On the smooth surface of that angel meekness
I should have thought no angry breath could linger.
But men and kings are

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Hush ! I was to blame.

The King's all goodness. Shall I write to him ?
Letters have not our looks and, oh, one look !
How many hardest hearts one look hath won
A life consumed in words had wooed in vain !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

To-night there is high revel at the court ;
There you may meet your truant King.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

To-night !
An age ! How many hours to night ?

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

You know

My office makes my home the royal palace ;
I serve the Queen, and thus shall see your Louis
Ere the sun set.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

You ! happy you !



SCENE in.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 85
MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Perchance,

(The King is ever gracious to your friends,
And knows me of the nearest,) I might whisper,
Though with less sweet a tone, your message to

him,
And be your dove, and bear you back the olive ?

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

My kind Athene !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Nay, 'tis yours the kindness,

To wear my love so near your heart. But, tell me,
Since you accept my heraldry, the cause
Of strife between you in this court of Love.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Alas ! I know not save that I offended !

The wherefore boots the heart that loves to know ?

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Not much, I own, the poor defendant woman,
But much the advocate ; I need the brief.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Methinks his kingly nature chafes to see
It cannot rule the conscience as the heart ;



86 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALL1ERE. [ACT in.

But, tell him, ever henceforth I will keep

Sad thoughts for lonely hours. Athene, tell him,

That if he smile once more upon Louise,

The smile shall never pass from that it shines on ;

Say but Til write myself.

fSits down to the table and writes J

MADAME DE MONTESPAN (aside.)

What need of schemes
Lauzun's keen wit Athene's plotting spirit ?
She weaves herself the web that shall ensnare her !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

There ; back these feeble words with all thy beauty,
Thy conquering eyes, and thy bewitching smile.
Sure never suit can fail with such a pleader !
And now a little while to holier sadness,
And thine accusing memory, Bragelone !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Whom speak you of? the hero of the Fronde ?
Who seemed the last of the old Norman race,
And half preserved to this degenerate age
The lordly shape the ancient Bayards wore !

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

You praise him well ! He was my father's friend,
And should have been his son. We were affianced,



SCENE in.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 87

And but no more ! Ah ! cruel, cruel Louis !
You mourned for him how much more cause
have //

MADAME DE MONTESPAN (quickly.)

What ! he is dead ? your grief the king resented ?
Knew he your troth had thus been plighted ?

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

Yes;
And still he seemed to deem it sin to mourn him !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN (aside.}

A clue another clue that I will follow,

Until it lead me to the throne ! - - (Aloud.} Well,

cheer thee;

Trust your true friend ; rely on my persuasion.
Methinks I never tasked its powers till now.
Farewell, and fear not ! Oh ! I'll plead your cause,
As if myself the client! (Aside.} Thou art sentenced!

[Exit Madame de Montespan.

DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE.

'Tis a sweet solace still to have a friend
A friend in woman ! Oh, to what a reed
We bind our destinies, when man we love !
Peace, honour, conscience lost if I lose him,
What have I left ? How sinks my heart within me !



88 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

I'll to my chamber ; there the day of tears
Learns night to smile ! And I'm the thing they
envy ! *

[Exit Duchess de la V oilier e.



SCENE IV.

The Gardens of Versailles Lauzun, Grammont>
and Courtiers.



LAUZUN.



Tis now the hour in which our royal master
Honours the ground of his rejoicing gardens
By his illustrious footsteps ! there, my lords,
That is the true style-courtier !



* In representation, the actress who may perform the
Duchess de la Valliere will pardon me for observing, that
the words in italics should be said, not ironically, but with
a kind of sad and patient wonder. She should appear lost in
amazed abstraction at the contrast between her real feelings
and the envy she excites, and wake from it with a slight start
and smile. And, in one word, now that I am on that subject,
the actress should remember that the very soul of La Valliere's
character is simplicity ; and that there are few passages in
which the natural tone of voice will not be more suitable and
more effective than the declamatory.



SCENE iv.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 89
GRAMMONT.

Out upon you !

Your phrase would suit some little German prince,
Of fifteen hundred quarterings and five acres,
And not the world's great Louis ! Tis the hour
When Phoebus shrinks abashed, and all the stars
Envy the day that it beholds the King !

(To them, Marquis de Montespan, in bright scarlet
hose.)

MARQUIS DE MONTESPAN.

Most beautiful ! You have a turn of thought,
A taste, a sentiment, so chaste and noble !
Oh, I am charmed enraptured !

LAUZUN.

You here, Marquis !
Why, you make Grammont blush. Such praise

from you

Will turn his bashful brain ! Dear Montespan,
You are the glass of fashion ! Heavens, what

stockings !
The exquisite man !

MONTESPAN.

rfaith, methinks they're pretty.



90 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT HI.
LAUZUN.

Pretty ! if I were married, 'troth, my Duchess
Should keep her train at a respectful distance ;
You'd set it on a blaze ! You walk the earth
Like Cupid mounted on a pair of flambeaux !
Oh, you're a dangerous man \

MONTESPAN.

So says my wife,

And begs me not to come too near her lest
She love me too outrageously ! At courts,
People of quality must be decorous ;
'Tis not the mode to seem adored too much,

LAUZUN.

Your wife's an angel ! Apropos, dear Marquis ;
You see a friend's advice was worth the taking ;
Your lady's all the rage ; the King admires her.

MONTESPAN.

The King ! I'm in despair I mean, dear Duke ?
I am enraptured ! hum !

LAUZUN.

You are not jealous ?

MONTESPAN.

Zounds ! jealous ! no !



SCENE iv.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 91
LAUZUN.

No Marquis can be jealous !

MONTESPAN.

Not of a count or baron ; but a king !

S'death, if I thought it were my honour touched,

An' it were fifty kings

Enter Louis.

LOUIS.

Good day, my Lords !
Pray you be covered. Well ! what says the

Marquis
Of fifty kings ?

MONTESPAN.

I / I'm in despair !

LAUZUN.
That fifty kings would never make one Louis !

LOUIS.
Go to, thou flatterer ! Harkye, dear De Lauzun.

[Exeunt the Courtiers, as the King takes Lauzun
aside.



92 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

MONTESPAN (aside.)

My wife said right ; this worthy duke has got
The true court politesse ! He lies divinely !

[Exit Montespan.

LAUZUN.

This Montespan I own is wondrous silly ;
But he has one good quality his wife !

LOUIS.
That's true ! a charming face !

LAUZUN.

Ah ! had she heard you,
Your Majesty had made one hlissful subject.

LOUIS.
Nay, Lauzun, nay !

LAUZUN.

Her soul is like the Persian,
And on the loftiest eminence hath built
A shrine of fire. But, pardon me, my Liege ;
I had forgot, your royal taste prefers
Natures that love less warmly though as well.

LOUIS.

Hem ! But, in truth, this lady's worth the loving ;
And, by mine honour, while we speak, she comes !
A happy fortune.



SCENE iv.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 93

Enter Madame de Montespan.

LAUZUN (archly.)

Sire, may I withdraw ?

LOUIS.
Some message from the Queen ; why as thou wilt.

LAUZUN (aside.)

Methinks it may be as I will !

[Exit Lauzun.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

(Appearing for the first time to perceive Louis.)

The King !
(Salutes him, and passes on.)

LOUIS.

Fair Madam, we had hoped you with you brought
Some bright excuse to grace our cheerless presence
With a less short-lived light ! You dawn upon us
Only to make us more regret your setting.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Sire, if I dared, I would most gladly hail

A few short moments to arrest your presence,

And rid me of a soft, yet painful duty.



94 THE DUtHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.

LOUIS.

Tis the first time, be sure, so sweet a voice
E'er crav'd a sanction for delighting silence.
Speak on, we pray thee !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Gracious Sire, the Duchess,
Whom you have lately left, she fears, in anger,
Besought me to present this letter to you.

LOUIS (takes the letter, and aside.)

She blushes while she speaks ! 'Tis passing strange,
I ne'er remarked those darkly-dreaming eyes,
That melt in their own light !

(Reads, and carelessly puts up the letter.)

It scarcely suits

Her dignity, and ours, to choose a witness
To what hath chanced between us. She is good ;
But her youth, spent in some old country castle,
Knows not the delicate spirit of a court.

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

She bade me back her suit. Alas ! my Liege,
Who can succeed, if fair La Valliere fail ?

LOUIS.

She bade thee ? she was prudent ! Were /woman,
And loved, I'd not have chosen such a herald.



SCENE iv.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 95
MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Love varies in its colours with all tempers ;

The Duchess is too proud to fear a rival,

Too beautiful to find one. May I take

Some word of comfort back to cheer her sadness ?

Made doubly deep by thoughts of your displeasure,

And grief for a dear friend.

LOUIS.

Aye, that's the sadness !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

He was a gallant lord, this Bragelone,

And her betrothed. Perchance in youth she loved

him,
Ere the great sun had quenched the morning star !

LOUIS.
She loved him ! think'st thou so ?

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Indeed I know not ;

But I have heard her eloquent in praise,
And seen her lost in woe. You will forgive her !

LOUIS.
Forgive her ? there's no cause !



96 THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. [ACT in.
MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

Now, bless you, Sire,
For that one word. My task is done.

LOUIS.

Already ?

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

What can I more ? Oh, let me hasten back !

What rapture must be hers who can but fill

An atom of the heart of godlike Louis !

How much more the whole soul ! To lose thy love

Must be, not grief, but some sublime despair

Like that the Roman felt who lost a world !

LOUIS.

By Heaven, she fires me ! a brave, royal spirit,
Worthy to love a king !

MADAME DE MONTESPAN.

To know thee hers,
What pride ! what glory ! Though all earth cried

1 Shame !'

Earth could not still the trumpet at her heart,
That, with its swelling and exultant voice,
Told her the earth was but the slave of Louis,
And she the partner ! And, O hour of dread !



SCENE iv.] THE DUCHESS DE LA VALLIERE. 97

When (for the hour must come) some fairer form
Shall win thee from her still, me thinks, 'twould be
A boast to far posterity to point
To all the trophies piled about thy throne,
And say ' He loved me once !' O Sire, your
pardon ;

I am too bold.

LOUIS.

Why, this were love, indeed,
Could we but hope to win it. And such love
Would weave the laurel in its wreaths of myrtle.
Beautiful lady ! while thou speak'st, I dream
What love should be, and feel where love is not !
Thou com'st the suitor, to remain the judge ;
And I could kneel to thee for hope and mercy.


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Online LibraryEdward Bulwer Lytton LyttonThe Duchess de la Vallière : a play in five acts → online text (page 4 of 7)