Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart Montespan.

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conspiracies and coups d'etat. She dethroned her husband in order to
marry his brother. - EDITOR'S NOTE.]

But has she any right to act in this way? Do you think her capable of
contributing to your pleasure or your happiness? This young Queen of
Portugal, under the guise of good-humour, hides a violent and irascible
temperament. I believe her to be thoroughly selfish; suppose that she
neglects and despises you, after having profited by your company to
while away the tedium of her journey? Take my word for it, madame, you
had better stay here with us; for there is no real society but in
France, no wit but in our great world, no real happiness but in Paris.
Draw up another petition as quickly as possible, and send it to me. I
will present it myself, and to tell you this is tantamount to a promise
that your plea shall succeed."

Mademoiselle d'Aubigne, all flushed with emotion, assured me of her
gratitude with the ingenuous eloquence peculiar to herself. We embraced
as two friends of the Albret set should do, and three days later, the
King received a new petition, not signed with the name of Scarron, but
with that of D'Aubigne.

The pension of two thousand francs, granted three years before her death
by the Queen-mother, was renewed. Madame Scarron had the honour of
making her courtesy to the King, who thought her handsome, but grave in
demeanour, and in a loud, clear voice, he said to her, "Madame, I kept
you waiting; I was jealous of your friends."

The Queen of Portugal knew that I had deprived her of her secretary,
fellow-gossip, reader, Spanish teacher, stewardess, confidante, and
lady-in-waiting. She wrote to me complaining about this, and on taking
leave of the King to go and reign in Portugal, she said, with rather a
forced air of raillery:

"I shall hate you as long as I live, and if ever you do me the honour of
paying me a visit some day at Lisbon, I'll have you burned for your

Then she wanted to embrace me, as if we were equals, but this I
deprecated as much from aversion as from respect.


La Fontaine. - Boileau. - Moliere. - Corneille. - Louis XIV.'s Opinion of
Each of Them.

The King's studies with his preceptor, Perefixe, had been of only a
superficial sort, as, in accordance with the express order of the
Queen-mother, this prelate had been mainly concerned about the health of
his pupil, the Queen being, above all, desirous that he should have a
good constitution. "The rest comes easily enough, if a prince have but
nobility of soul and a sense of duty," as the Queen often used to say.
Her words came true.

I came across several Spanish and Italian books in the library of the
little apartments. The "Pastor Fido," "Aminta," and the "Gerusalemme,"
seemed to me, at first, to be the favourite works. Then came Voiture's
letters, the writings of Malherbe and De Balzac, the Fables of La
Fontaine, the Satires of Boileau, and the delightful comedies of Moliere.
Corneille's tragedies had been read, but not often.

Until I came to Court, I had always looked upon Corneille as the greatest
tragic dramatist in the world, and as the foremost of our poets and men
of letters. The King saved me from this error.

Book in hand, he pointed out to me numberless faults of style, incoherent
and fantastic imagery, sentiment alike exaggerated and a thousand leagues
removed from nature. He considered, and still considers, Pierre
Corneille to be a blind enthusiast of the ancients, whom we deem great
since we do not know them. In his eyes, this declamatory poet was a
republican more by virtue of his head than his heart or his
intention, - one of those men more capricious than morose, who cannot
reconcile themselves to what exists, and prefer to fall back upon bygone
generations, not knowing how to live like friendly folk among their

He liked La Fontaine better, by reason of his extreme naturalness, but
his unbecoming conduct at the time of the Fouquet trial proved painful to
his Majesty, who considered the following verses passing strange:

". . . . Trust not in kings Their favour is but slippery; worse than
that, It costs one dear, and errors such as these Full oft bring shame
and scandal in their wake."

"Long live Moliere!" added his Majesty; "there you have talent without
artifice, poetry without rhapsody, satire without bitterness, pleasantry
that is always apt, great knowledge of the human heart, and perpetual
raillery that yet is not devoid of delicacy and compassion. Moliere is a
most charming man in every respect; I gave him a few hints for his
'Tartuffe,' and such is his gratitude that he wants to make out that,
without me, he would never have written that masterpiece."

"You helped him, Sire, to produce it, and above all things, to carry out
his main idea; and Moliere is right in thinking that, without a mind free
from error, such as is yours, his masterpiece would never have been

"It struck me," continued the King, "that some such thing was
indispensable as a counterbalance in the vast machinery of my government,
and I shall ever be the friend and supporter, not of Tartuffes, but of
the 'Tartuffe,' as long as I live."

"And Boileau, Sire?" I continued; "what place among your favourites does
he fill?"

"I like Boileau," replied the prince, "as a necessary scourge, which one
can pit against the bad taste of second-rate authors. His satires, of
too personal, a nature, and consequently iniquitous, do not please me. He
knows it, and, despite himself, he will amend this. He is at work upon
an 'Ars Poetica,' after the manner of Horace. The little that he has
read to me of this poem leads me to expect that it will be an important
work. The French language will continue to perfect itself by the help of
literature like this, and Boileau, cruel though he be, is going to confer
a great benefit upon all those who have to do with letters."


Birth of the Comte de Vegin. - Madame Scarron as Governess. - The King's
Continued Dislike of Her. - Birth of the Duc du Maine. - Marriage of the

The King became ever more attached to me personally, as also to the
peculiarities of my temperament. He had witnessed with satisfaction the
birth of Madame de la Valliere's two children, and I thought that he
would have the same affection for mine. But I was wrong. It was with
feelings of trepidation and alarm that he contemplated my approaching
confinement. Had I given birth to a daughter, I am perfectly certain
that, in his eyes, I should have been done for.

I gave birth to the first Comte de Vegin, and, grasping my hand
affectionately, the King said to me, "Be of good courage, madame; present
princes to the Crown, and let those be scandalised who will!" A few
moments later he came back, and gave me a million for my expenses.

It was, however, mutually arranged that the newborn Infant should be
recognised later on, and that, for the time being, I was to have him
brought up in secrecy and mystery.

When dissuading Madame Scarron from undertaking a journey to Lisbon, I
had my own private ends in view. I considered her peculiarly fitted to
superintend the education of the King's children, and to maintain with
success the air of mysterious reserve which for a while was indispensable
to me. I deputed my brother, M. de Vivonne, to acquaint her with my
proposals, - proposals which came from the King as well, - nor did I doubt
for one moment as regarded her consent and complacency, being, as she
was, alone in Paris.

"Madame," said M. de Vivonne to her, "the Marquise is overjoyed at being
able to offer you an important position of trust, which will change your
life once for all."

"The gentle, quiet life which, thanks to the kindness of the King, I now
lead, is all that my ambition can desire," replied the widow, concealing
her trouble from my brother; "but since the King wishes and commands it,
I will renounce the liberty so dear to me, and will not hesitate to

Accordingly she came. The King had a few moments' parley with her, in
order to explain to her all his intentions relative to the new life upon
which she was about to enter, and M. Bontems - [First Groom of the
Chamber, and Keeper of the Privy Purse.] - furnished her with the
necessary funds for establishing her household in suitable style.

A month afterwards, I went incognito to her lonely residence, situate
amid vast kitchen-gardens between Vaugirard and the Luxembourg. The
house was clean, commodious, thoroughly well appointed, and, not being
overlooked by neighbours, the secret could but be safely kept. Madame
Scarron's domestics included two nurses, a waiting-maid, a physician, a
courier, two footmen, a coachman, a postilion, and two cooks.

Being provided with an excellent coach, she came to Saint Germain every
week, to bring me my son, or else news of his welfare.

Her habitually sad expression somewhat pained the King. As I soon
noticed their mutual embarrassment, I used to let Madame Scarron stay in
an inner room all the time that his Majesty remained with me.

In the following year, I gave birth to the Duc du Maine. Mademoiselle
d'Aubigne, who was waiting in the drawing-room, wrapped the child up
carefully, and took it away from Paris with all speed.

On her way she met with an adventure, comic in itself, and which
mortified her much. When told of it, I laughed not a little; and, in
spite of all my excuses and expressions of regret, she always felt
somewhat sore about this; in fact, she never quite got over it.

Between Marly and Ruel, two mounted police officers, in pursuit of a nun
who had escaped from a convent, bethought themselves of looking inside
Madame Scarron's carriage. Such inquisitiveness surprised her, and she
put on her mask, and drew down the blinds. Observing that she was
closely followed by these soldiers, she gave a signal to her coachman,
who instantly whipped up his horses, and drove at a furious rate.

At Nanterre the gendarmes, being reinforced, cried out to the coachman to
stop, and obliged Madame Scarron to get out. She was taken to a tavern
close by, where they asked her to remove her mask. She made various
excuses for not doing so, but at the mention of the lieutenant-general of
police, she had to give in.

"Madame," inquired the brigadier, "have you not been in a nunnery?"

"Pray, monsieur, why do you ask?"

"Be good enough to answer me, madame; repeat my question, and I insist
upon a reply. I have received instructions that I shall not hesitate to
carry out."

"I have lived with nuns, but that, monsieur, was a long while ago."

"It is not a question of time. What was your motive for leaving these
ladies, and who enabled you to do so?"

"I left the convent after my first communion. I left it openly, and of
my own free will. Pray be good enough to allow me to continue my

"On leaving the convent, where did you go?"

"First to one of my relatives, then to another, and at last to Paris,
where I got married."

"Married? What, madame, are you married? Oh, young lady, what behaviour
is this? Your simple, modest mien plainly shows what you were before
this marriage. But why did you want to get married?"

As he said this, the little Duc du Maine, suffering, perhaps, from a
twinge of colic, began to cry. The brigadier, more amazed than ever,
ordered the infant to be shown as well.

Seeing that she could make no defence, Madame Scarron began to shed
tears, and the officer, touched to pity, said:

"Madame, I am sorry for your fault, for, as I see, you are a good mother.
My orders are to take you to prison, and thence to the convent specified
by the archbishop, but I warn you that if we catch the father of your
child, he will hang. As for you, who have been seduced, and who belong
to a good family, tell me one of your relatives with whom you are on
friendly terms, and I will undertake to inform them of your predicament."

Madame Scarron, busy in soothing the Duc du Maine, durst not explain for
fear of aggravating matters, but begged the brigadier to take her back to
Saint Germain.

At this juncture my brother arrived on his way back to Paris. He
recognised the carriage, which stood before the inn, with a crowd of
peasants round it, and hastened to rescue the governess, for he soon
succeeded in persuading these worthy police officers that the sobbing
dame was not a runaway nun, and that the new-born infant came of a good


The Saint Denis View. - Superstitions, Apparitions. - Projected Enlargement
of Versailles. - Fresh Victims for Saint Denis.

One evening I was walking at the far end of the long terrace of Saint
Germain. The King soon came thither, and pointing to Saint Denis, said,
"That, madame, is a gloomy, funereal view, which makes me displeased and
disgusted with this residence, fine though it be."

"Sire," I replied, "in no other spot could a more magnificent view be
found. Yonder river winding afar through the vast plain, that noble
forest divided by hunting roads into squares, that Calvary poised high in
air, those bridges placed here and there to add to the attractiveness of
the landscape, those flowery meadows set in the foreground as a rest to
the eye, the broad stream of the Seine, which seemingly is fain to flow
at a slower rate below your palace windows, - I do not think that any more
charming combination of objects could be met with elsewhere, unless one
went a long way from the capital."

"The chateau of Saint Germain no longer pleases me," replied the King. "I
shall enlarge Versailles and withdraw thither. What I am going to say
may astonish you, perhaps, as it comes from me, who am neither a
whimsical female nor a prey to superstition. A few days before the
Queen, my mother, had her final seizure, I was walking here alone in this
very spot. A reddish light appeared above the monastery of Saint Denis,
and a cloud which rose out of the ruddy glare assumed the shape of a
hearse bearing the arms of Austria. A few days afterwards my poor mother
was removed to Saint Denis. Four or five days before the horrible death
of our adorable Henrietta, the arrows of Saint Denis appeared to me in a
dream covered in dusky flames, and amid them I saw the spectre of Death,
holding in his hand the necklaces and bracelets of a young lady. The
appalling death of my cousin followed close upon this presage.
Henceforth, the view of Saint Denis spoils all these pleasant landscapes
for me. At Versailles fewer objects confront the eye; a park of that
sort has its own wealth of natural beauty, which suffices. I shall make
Versailles a delightful resort, for which France will be grateful to me,
and which my successors can neither neglect nor destroy without bringing
to themselves dishonour."

I sympathised with the reasons which made Saint Germain disagreeable to
his Majesty. Next summer the causes for such aversion became more
numerous, as the King had the misfortune to lose the daughters which the
Queen bore him, and they were carried to Saint Denis.


M. de Lauzun. - His Pretensions. - Erroneous Ideas of the Public. - The War
in Candia. - M. de Lauzun Thinks He Will Secure a Throne for Himself. - The
King Does Not Wish This.

The Marquis de Guilain de Lauzun was, and still is, one of the handsomest
men at Court. Before my marriage, vanity prompted him to belong to the
list of my suitors, but as his reputation in Paris was that of a man who
had great success with the ladies, my family requested him either to come
to the point or to retire, and he withdrew, though unwilling to break
matters off altogether.

When he saw me in the bonds of matrimony, and enjoying its liberty, he
recommenced his somewhat equivocal pursuit of me, and managed to get
himself talked about at my expense. Society was unjust; M. de Lauzun
only dared to pay me homage of an insipid sort. He had success enough in
other quarters, and I knew what I owed to some one as well as what I owed
to myself.

Ambition is the Marquis's ruling passion. The simple role of a fine
gentleman is, in his eyes, but a secondary one; his Magnificency requires
a far more exalted platform than that.

When he knew that war in Candia had broken out, and which side the kings
of Christendom would necessarily take, his ideas became more exalted
still. He bethought himself of the strange fortunes of certain valiant
warriors in the time of the Crusades. He saw that the Lorraines, the
Bouillons, and the Lusignans had won sceptres and crowns, and he
flattered himself that the name of Lauzun might in this vast adventurous
career gain glory too.

He begged me to get him a command in this army of Candia, wherein the
King had just permitted his own kinsmen to go and win laurels for
themselves. He was already a full colonel of dragoons, and one of the
captains of the guard. The King, who till then liked him well enough,
considered such a proposition indecent, and, gauging or not gauging his
intentions, he postponed until a later period these aspirations of Lauzun
to the post of prince or sovereign.


The Abbe d'Estrees. - Singular Offers of Service. - Madame de Montespan
Declines His Offer of Intercession at the Vatican. - He Revenges Himself
upon the King of Portugal. - Difference between a Fair Man and a Dark.

Since the reign of Gabrielle d'Estrees, who died just as she was about to
espouse her King, the D'Estrees family were treated at Court more with
conventional favour than with esteem. The first of that name was
lieutenant-general, destined to wield the baton of a French marshal, on
account of his ancestry as well as his own personal merit. The Abbe
d'Estrees passed for being in the Church what M. de Lauzun was in
society, - a man who always met with success, and who also was madly

While still very young, he had been appointed to the bishopric of Laon,
which, in conjunction with two splendid abbeys, brought him in a handsome
revenue. The Duc and Duchesse de Vendome were as fond of him as one of
their own kin, doing nothing without first consulting him, everywhere
praising and extolling his abilities, which were worthy of a ministry.

This prelate desired above all things to be made a cardinal. Under Henri
IV. he could easily have had his wish, but at that time he was not yet
born. He imagined that on the strength of my credit he could procure the
biretta for himself.

As soon as he saw me recognised as a mistress, he paid assiduous court to
me, never losing an opportunity of everywhere sounding my praise. One day
he said to me: "Madame, every one pities you on account of the vexation
and grief which the Marquis de Montespan has caused you. If you will
confide in me, - that is, if you will let me represent your interests with
the Cardinals and the Holy Father, - I heartily offer you my services as
mediator and advocate with regard to the question of nullity. At an
early age I studied theology and ecclesiastical law. Your marriage may
be considered null and void, according to this or that point of view. You
know that upon the death of the Princesse de Nemours, Mademoiselle de
Nemours and Mademoiselle d'Aumale, her two daughters, came to reside with
Madame de Vendome, my cousin, a relative and a friend of their mother.
The eldest I first of all married to Duc Charles de Lorraine, heir to the
present Duc de Lorraine. His Majesty did not approve of this marriage,
which was contrary to his politics. His Majesty deigned to explain
himself and open out to me upon the subject. I at once consulted my
books, and found all the means necessary for dissolving such a marriage.
So true, indeed is this, that I forthwith remarried Mademoiselle de
Nemours to the Duc de Savoie. This took place under your very eyes. Soon
afterwards I married her younger sister to the King of Portugal, and
accompanied her to Lisbon, where the Portuguese gave her a fairly warm
reception. Her young husband is tall and fair, with a pleasant,
distinguished face; he loves his wife, and is only moderately beloved in
return. Is she wrong or is she right? Now, I will tell you. The
monarch is well-made, but a childish infirmity has left one whole side of
him somewhat weak, and he limps. Mademoiselle d'Aumale, or to speak more
correctly, the Queen of Portugal, writes letter upon letter to me,
describing her situation. She believed herself pregnant, and had even
announced the news to Madame de Vendome, as well as to Madame de Savoie,
her sister. Now it appears that this is not the case. She is vexed and
disgusted. I am about to join her at Lisbon. She is inclined to place
the crown upon the young brother of the King, requesting the latter to
seek the seclusion of a monastery. I can see that this new idea of the
youthful Queen's will necessitate my visiting the Vatican. Allow me,
madame, to have charge of your interests. Do not have the slightest fear
but that I shall protect them zealously and intelligently, killing thus
two birds with one stone."

"Pray accept my humble thanks," I replied to the Bishop. "The reigning
Sovereign Pontiff has never shown me any favour whatever, and is in
nowise one of my friends. What you desire to do for me at Rome deserves
some signal mark of gratitude in return, but I cannot get you a
cardinal's hat, for a thousand reasons.

"Mademoiselle de Nemours, when leaving us, promised to hate me as long as
she lived, and to have me burnt at an 'auto da fe' whenever she got the
chance. Do not let her know that you have any regard for me, or you
might lose her affection.

"I hope that the weak side of her husband, the King, may get stronger,
and that you will not help to put the young monarch in a convent of

"In any case, my lord Bishop, do not breathe it to a living soul that you
have told me of such strange resolutions as these; for my own part, I
will safely keep your secret, and pray God to have you in his holy

The Bishop of Laon was not a man to be rebuffed by pleasantry such as
this. He declared the King of Portugal to be impotent, after what the
Queen had expressly stated. The Pope annulled the marriage, and the
Queen courageously wedded her husband's brother, who had no congenital
weakness of any sort, and who was, as every one knew, of dark complexion.

At the request of the Queen, the Bishop of Laon was afterwards presented
with the hat, and is, today, my lord Cardinal d'Estrees.


Mademoiselle de Valois. - Mademoiselle d'Orleans. - Mademoiselle
d'Alencon. - M. de Savoie. - His Love-letters. - His Marriage with
Mademoiselle de Valois. - M. de Guise and Mademoiselle d'Alencon. - Their
Marriage Ceremony. - Madame de Montespan's Dog. - Mademoiselle
d'Orleans. - Her Marriage with the Duke of Tuscany. - The Bishop de Bonzy.

By his second wife, Marguerite de Lorraine, Gaston de France had three
daughters, and being devoid of energy, ability, or greatness of
character, they did not object when the King married them to sovereigns
of the third-rate order.

Upon these three marriages I should like to make some remarks, on account
of certain singular details connected therewith, and because of the
joking to which they gave rise.

Mademoiselle de Montpensier had flatly refused the Duc de Savoie, because
Madame de Savoie, daughter of Henri IV., was still living, ruling her
estate like a woman of authority; and therefore, to this stepmother, a
king's daughter, Mademoiselle had to give way, she being but the daughter
of a French prince who died in disgrace and was forgotten.

Being refused by the elder princess, M. de Savoie, still quite young,
sought the hand of her sister, Mademoiselle de Valois. He wrote her a
letter which, unfortunately, was somewhat singular in style, and which,
unfortunately too, fell into the hands of Mademoiselle de Montpensier.
Like her late father, Gaston, she plumed herself upon her wit and
eloquence; she caused several copies of the effusion to be printed and
circulated at Court. I will include it in these Memoirs, as it cannot
but prove entertaining. The heroes of Greece, and even of Troy, possibly
delivered their compliments in somewhat better fashion, if we may judge
by the version preserved for us by Homer.


MY DEAR COUSIN: - As the pen must needs perform the office of the tongue,
and as it expresses the feelings of my heart, I doubt not but that I am
at great disadvantage, since the depth of these feelings it cannot

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