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express, nor rightly convince you that, having given all myself to you,
nothing remains either to give or to desire, save to find such affection
pleasantly reciprocated. Thus, in these lines, I earnestly beseech you
to return my love, - lines which give you the first hints of that fire
which your many lovely qualities have lighted in my soul. They create in
me an inconceivable impatience closely to contemplate that which now I
admire at a distance, and to convince you by various proofs that, with
matchless loyalty and passion,

I am, dear Cousin, Your most humble slave and servant, EMMANUEL.

Gentle as an angel, Mademoiselle de Valois desired just what everybody
else did. The youngest of the three princesses was named Mademoiselle
d'Alencon. With a trifle more wit and dash, she could have maintained
her position at Court, where so charming a face as hers was fitted to
make its mark; but her fine dark eyes did but express indifference and
vacuity, seemingly unconscious of the pleasure to be got in this world
when one is young, good-looking, shapely, a princess of the blood, and
cousin german of the King besides.

Marguerite de Lorraine, her mother, married her to the Duc de Guise,
their near relative, who, without ambition or pretension, seemed almost
astonished to see that the King gave, not a dowry, but a most lovely
verdure - [Drawing-room tapestry, much in vogue at that time] - , and an
enamelled dinner-service.

The marriage was celebrated at the chateau, without any special
ceremonies or preparations; so much so that two cushions, which had been
forgotten, had to be hastily fetched. I saw what was the matter, and
motioning the two attendants of the royal sacristy, I whispered to them
to fetch what was wanted from my own apartment.

Not knowing to what use these cushions were to be put, my 'valet de
chambre' brought the flowered velvet ones, on which my dogs were wont to
lie. I noticed this just as their Highnesses were about to kneel down,
and I felt so irresistibly inclined to laugh that I was obliged to retire
to my room to avoid bursting out laughing before everybody.

Fortunately the Guises did not get to know of this little detail until
long after, or they might have imagined that it was a planned piece of
malicious mockery. However, it is only fair to admit that the marriage
was treated in a very off-hand way, and it is that which always happens
to people whose modesty and candour hinder them from posing and talking
big when they get the chance. A strange delusion, truly!

Mademoiselle d'Orleans, the eldest child of the second marriage, is
considered one of the prettiest and most graceful of blondes. Her
endowments were surely all that a princess could need, if one except
reserve in speaking, and a general dignity of deportment.

When it was a question of giving her to Prince de Medici, Grand Duke of
Tuscany, she was all the while sincerely attached to handsome Prince
Charles de Lorraine, her maternal cousin. But the King, who, in his
heart of hearts, wanted to get hold of Lorraine for himself, could not
sanction this union; nay, he did more: he opposed it. Accordingly the
Princess, being urged to do so by her mother, consented to go to Italy,
and as we say at Court, expatriate herself.

The Bishop of Nziers, named De Bonzy, the Tuscan charge d'afaires, came,
on behalf of the Medici family, to make formal demand of her hand, and
had undertaken to bring her to her husband with all despatch. He had
undertaken an all too difficult task.

"Monsieur de Bonzy," said she to the prelate, "as it is you who here play
the part of interpreter and cavalier of honour as it is you, moreover,
who have to drag me away from my native country, I have to inform you
that it is my intention to leave it as slowly as possible, and to
contemplate it at my leisure before quitting it forever."

And, indeed, the Princess desired to make a stay more or less long in
every town en route. If, on the way, she noticed a convent of any
importance, she at once asked to be taken thither, and, in default of
other pastime or pretext, she requested them to say complines with full
choral accompaniment.

If she saw some castle or other, she inquired the name of its owner, and,
though she hardly knew the inmates, was wont to invite herself to dinner
and supper.

The Bishop of Beziers grew disconsolate. He wrote letters to the Court,
which he sent by special courier, and I said to the King, "Pray, Sire,
let her do as she likes; she will surely have time enough to look at her
husband later on."

Near Saint Fargeau, when the Princess heard that this estate was her
sister's, Mademoiselle sent a gentleman with her compliments, to ask if
she would give her shelter for twenty-four hours. Instead of twenty-four
hours' stay, she proceeded to take up her abode there; and, provided with
a gun and dogs, she wandered all over the fields, always accompanied by
the worthy Bishop, at whose utter exhaustion she was highly amused.

At length she left her native land, and joined her husband, who seemed
somewhat sulky at all this delay.

"I cannot love you just yet," quoth she, weeping; "my heart is still
another's, and it is impossible to break off such attachments without
much time and much pain. Pray treat me with gentleness, for if you are
severe, I shall not do you any harm, but I shall go back to the
Luxembourg to my mother."




CHAPTER XXV.

Random Recollections. - Madame de Montespan Withdraws from Politics. - The
Queen's Dowry. - First Campaign in Flanders. - The Queen Meets the
King. - Some One Else Sees Him First. - The Queen's Anger at La Valliere.


In compiling these Memoirs, I have never pretended to keep a strictly
regular diary, where events are set down chronologically and in their
proper order. I write as I recollect; some of my recollections are
chronicled sooner, and others later. Thus it happens that the King's
first conquests are only now mentioned in the present chapter, although
they occurred in the year 1667, at the beginning of my credit and my
favour.

I was naturally inclined for politics, and should have liked the hazard
of the game; but I suppose that the King considered me more frivolous and
giddy than I really was, for, despite the strong friendship with which he
has honoured me, he has never been gracious enough to initiate me into
the secrets of the Cabinet and the State.

If this sort of exclusion or ostracism served to wound my self-respect,
it nevertheless had its special advantage for me, for in epochs less
glorious or less brilliant (that is to say, in times of failure), they
could never cavil at advice or counsel which I had given, nor blame me
for the shortcomings of my proteges or creatures.

The King was born ambitious. This prince will not admit it; he gives a
thousand reasons in justification of his conquests. But the desire for
conquest proves him to be a conqueror, and one is not a conqueror without
being ambitious. I think I can explain myself by mentioning the treaty
drawn up at the time of his marriage. It was stipulated that the Infanta
should have rights over the Netherlands, then possessed by Don Balthazar,
Prince of Spain. But it was agreed to give the Princess Maria Theresa a
handsome dowry, in lieu of which she signed a paper renouncing her
rights.

Her father, King Philip IV., died at the close of the year 1665, and the
Queen-mother besought our King not to take advantage of the minority of
the young Charles II., his brother-in-law, by troubling Spain afresh with
his pretensions.

Hardly had Anne of Austria been interred, when the King informed the
Spanish Court of his claims. In the spring of the following year, he
himself led an army into Spanish Flanders, where his appearance was not
expected. These fine provinces, badly provisioned and badly fortified,
made but a merely formal resistance to Conde, Turenne, Crequi, and all
our illustrious generals, who, led by the King in person, wrought the
troops to a wild pitch of enthusiasm.

The King had left the Infanta, his wife, at Compiegne, and it was there
that we awaited either news of the army or orders to advance.

From Compiegne we went to La Fere, where we heard that the King was
coming to receive us. Suddenly it was rumoured that the Duchesse de la
Valliere had just arrived, and that she was acting in accordance with
orders received.

The Queen began to weep, and, sobbing, bewailed her destiny. She was
seized by convulsions and violent retching, much to the alarm of her
ladies and the physicians.

Next day, after mass, the Duchesse and the Marquise de la Valliere came
to make their courtesy to the Queen, who, staring at them, said not a
word. When dinner-time came, she gave orders that no food should be
served to them, but the officials supplied this to them in secret,
fearing to be compromised.

In the coach, the Queen complained greatly of Mademoiselle de la
Valliere, and the Princesse de Bade, one of the ladies-in-waiting, said
to me, "Could you have believed that, with such gentleness, one could
also display such impudence?" The Duchesse de Montausier, I know not
why, expressed herself to me in the same terms of amazement. I replied
that, "Were I in that fair lady's place, I should dare to show myself
least of all to the Queen, for fear of grieving her Majesty." I was
often rebuked afterwards for this speech, which, I admit, I delivered
somewhat thoughtlessly.

On leaving La Fere, the Queen gave particular orders to let the Duchess
have no relays, so that she could not follow; but the Master of the Horse
had caused these to be brought to her from Versailles, so nothing was
wanting.

On putting my head out of window, when we turned a corner of the road, I
saw that La Valliere's coach, with six horses, was following quite close
behind; but I took care not to tell the Queen, who believed those ladies
were a long way off.

All at once, on a height, we saw a body of horsemen approaching. The
King could be plainly distinguished, riding at their head. La Valliere's
coach immediately left the main road, and drove across country, while the
Queen called out to have it stopped; but the King embraced its occupants,
and then it drove off at a gallop to a chateau already fixed upon for its
reception.

I like to be just, and it is my duty to be so. This mark of irreverence
towards the Queen is the only one for which Mademoiselle de la Valliere
can be blamed; but she would never have done such a thing of her own
accord; it was all the fault of the Marquise, blinded as she was by
ambition.




CHAPTER XXVI.

The King Contemplates the Conquest of Holland. - The Grand Seignior's
Embassy. - Madame de Montespan's Chance of Becoming First Lady of the
Harem. - Anxiety to Conclude Negotiations with so Passionate an
Ambassador. - Help Sent to Candia. - With Disastrous Results. - Death of the
Duc de Beaufort. - Why It Is Good to Carry About the Picture of One's
Lady-love.


Having gained possession of the Netherlands in the name of the Infanta,
his consort, the King seriously contemplated the subjugation of the
Dutch, and possibly also the invasion of these rich countries. Meanwhile,
he privately intimated as much to the princes of Europe, promising to
each of them some personal and particular advantage in exchange for a
guarantee of assistance or neutrality in this matter.

The Grand Seignior, hearing that the Pope and the Venetians were urging
our Cabinet to come to the help of Candia, lost no time in sending a
splendid embassy to Paris, to congratulate the young King upon his
conquest of Flanders, and to predict for him all success in the paths
along which ambition might lead him.

[This important island of Candia, the last powerful bulwark of
Christendom against the Turk, belonged at that time to Venice. EDITOR'S
NOTE.]

Being naturally fond of show and display, the King left nothing undone
which might give brilliance to the reception of so renowned an embassy.
The Court wore an air of such splendour and magnificence that these
Mussulmans, used though they were to Asiatic pomp, seemed surprised and
amazed at so brilliant a reception, at which nothing, indeed, had been
forgotten.

The ambassador-in-chief was a pleasant young man, tall, shapely, and
almost as good-looking as the King. This Turk had splendidly shaped
hands, and eyes that shone with extraordinary brilliance. He conceived
an ardent passion for me, a passion that went to such lengths that he
sacrificed thereto all his gravity, all his stately Ottoman demeanour.

When I passed by, he saluted me, placing his hand to his heart, stopping
to gaze at me intently, and watch me as long as possible. Being
introduced (either by chance or design) to my Paris jeweller, he seized a
gold box upon which he saw my portrait, and, giving the jeweller a
considerable sum, refused to part with the picture, however much they
begged him to do so.

One fine morning, in spite of his turban, he got into the large chapel of
the chateau during mass, and while the Court of France was adoring the
true God, Ibrahim knelt down in front of me, which made every one laugh,
including the King.

All such absurdities caused the ministers to give him the required reply
with all speed, and they were not backward in granting him a farewell
audience.

When the time came for him to go, Ibrahim burst into tears, exclaiming
that, in his country, I should be in the first rank, whereas at Saint
Germain I was only in the second; and he charged his interpreter to tell
the King of France that the unhappy Ibrahim would never get over this
visit to his Court.

The King replied, with a smile, that he had "better become a Christian,
and stay with us."

At these words the ambassador turned pale, and glancing downwards,
withdrew, forgetting to salute his Majesty.

Then he returned, and made all his bows quite nicely; nor would he quit
the capital before he had sent me his portrait, some pretty verses in
Italian, which he had caused to be composed, and besides this, a set of
amber ornaments, the most beautiful of any worn by ladies of the harem.

Despite this imposing and costly embassy, despite the ambassador's
compliment, who referred to the King as "Eldest Son of the Sun," this
same Son of the Sun despatched seven thousand picked troops to help
Venice against the Turks. To this detachment the Venetian Republic sent
fourteen vessels laden with their own soldiers, under the leadership of
our Duc de Beaufort, Grand Admiral of France, and Lieutenant-General Duc
de Navailles.

Had these troops arrived in the nick of time, they would have saved
Candia, but by a sudden accident all was lost, and after so terrible a
reverse, the Isle of Candia, wrested from the potentates of Europe and
Christendom, fell a prey to the infidels.

A pistol-shot fired at a Turk blew up several barrels of gunpowder
belonging to a large magazine captured from the enemy. Our troops,
thinking that a mine had been sprung, fled in headlong confusion, never
even caring to save their muskets. The Turks butchered them in the most
frightful manner. In this huge massacre, some of our most promising
officers perished, and the Duc de Beaufort was never found either among
the wounded or the slain.

The young Comte de Guiche, of whom I shall presently speak, had his hand
smashed, and if on his breast he had not worn a portrait of Madame, - [The
ill-fated Duchesse d'Orleans.] - the sword of a Turk would have struck him
to the heart.

The King felt sorry that he had only despatched seven thousand men
thither. But when M. de Louvois informed him that the whole detachment
had been almost annihilated, he regretted having sent so many.




CHAPTER XXVII.

Danger of Harbouring a Malcontent. - The King's Policy with Regard to
Lorraine. - Advice of Madame de Thianges. - Conquest of Lorraine. - The
Lorraines Surrender to the Emperor.


The petty princes placed too near a great potentate are just like the
shrubs that grow beside an old oak tree, whose broad shade blights them,
while its roots undermine and sap them, till at last they are weakened
and destroyed.

When young Gaston, son of Henri IV., seeking to get free from Richelieu's
insolent despotism, withdrew to the Duc de Lorraine, the Cardinal uttered
a cry of joy, and remarked to Louis XIII., that vindictive, jealous
prince, "Oh, what a good turn the Duc d'Orleans has just done you to-day!
By going to stay with M. de Lorraine, he will oust him!"

The Court soon got to know that M. de Lorraine had given Monsieur a most
cordial reception, and that the latter, who, like his father, was very
susceptible, had proposed for the hand of the Princesse Marguerite, a
charming person, and sister to the reigning Duke.

King Louis XIII. openly opposed this marriage, which nevertheless was
arranged for, and celebrated partly at Nancy and partly at Luneville.

Such complacence earned for M. de Lorraine the indignation of the King
and his minister, the Cardinal. They waged against him a war of revenge,
or rather of spoliation, and as the prince, being unable then to offer
any serious resistance, was sensible enough to surrender, he got off with
the sacrifice of certain portions of his territory. He also had to
witness the demolition by France of the fine fortifications of Nancy.

Things were at this juncture when our young King assumed the management
of affairs. The policy pursued by Louis XIII. and his Cardinal seemed to
him an advantageous one, also; he lured to his capital M. de Lorraine,
who was still young and a widower, and by every conceivable pretext he
was prevented from marrying again. Lorraine had a nephew, - [Prince
Charles.] - a young man of great promise, to whom the uncle there and then
offered to make over all his property and rights, if the King would
honour him with his protection and marry him to whomsoever he fancied.
The King would not consent to a marriage of any kind, having a firm,
persistent desire in this way to make the line of these two princes
extinct.

I was talking about this one day in the King's chamber, when my sister De
Thianges had the hardihood to say:

"I hear that the Messieurs de Lorraine are about to take their departure,
and that, having lost all hope of making themselves beloved, they have
resolved to make themselves feared."

The King looked impassively at my sister, showing not a sign of emotion,
and he said to her:

"Do you visit there?"

"Sire," replied Madame de Thianges, unabashed, "augment the number, not
of your enemies, but of your friends; of all policies that is the best."
The King never said a word.

Soon afterwards, the Lorraines appealed secretly to the Empire and the
Emperor. The King was only waiting for such an opportunity; he forthwith
sent Marshal de Crequi at the head of twenty thousand men, who invaded
Lorraine, which had already been ravaged, and the Duchy of Bar, which had
not.

The manifesto stated the motives for such complaint, alleging that the
Duke had not been at the pains to observe the Treaty of Metz with regard
to the surrender of Harsal, and, as a punishment, his entire sovereignty
would be confiscated.

A large army then marched upon Peronne; it had been formed at Saint
Germain, and was divided into two columns. The first went to join the
Duc de Crequi, who occupied Lorraine; the other took up its position near
Sedan, to keep the Flemish and Dutch in check in case of any attempted
rebellion.

The Lorraines, in despair, gave themselves up to the Emperor, who, aware
of their fine soldierly qualities, bestowed upon both high posts of
command. They caused great losses to France and keen anxiety to her
King.




CHAPTER XXVIII.

Embassy of the King of Arda. - Political Influence Exercised by the Good
Looks of Madame de Montespan. - Gifts of the Envoys. - What the Comte de
Vegin Takes for a Horse. - Madame de Montespan Entertains Them in Her Own
House. - Three Missionaries Recommend Her to Them.


From the wilds of Africa, the King of Arda sent an embassy no less
brilliant and far more singular than that of the Turks. This African
prince, hearing of the French King's noble character and of his recent
conquests, proposed to form with him a political and commercial alliance,
and sought his support against the English and the Dutch, his near
neighbours.

The King said to me; "Madame, I believe Ibrahim has proclaimed your
charms even to the Africans; you bring embassies to me from the other end
of the globe. For Heaven's sake, don't show yourself, or these new
envoys will utterly lose their heads, too."

The envoys referred to were notable for their rich, semibarbaric dress,
but not one of them was like Ibrahim. They brought the King a present,
in the shape of a tiger, a panther, and two splendid lions. To the Queen
they gave a sort of pheasant covered with gold and blue feathers, which
burst out laughing while looking intensely grave, to the great diversion
of every one. They also brought to the princess a little blackamoor,
extremely well-made, who could never grow any bigger, and of which she,
unfortunately, grew very fond. - [Later on the writer explains herself
more fully. - EDITOR'S NOTE.]

These Africans also came in ceremonious fashion to present their respects
to me. They greeted me as the "second spouse of the King" (which greatly
offended the Queen), and in the name of the King of Arda, they presented
me with a necklace of large pearls, and two bracelets of priceless
value, - splendid Oriental sapphires, the finest in the world.

I gave orders for my children to be brought to them. On seeing these,
they prostrated themselves. The little Comte de Vein, profiting by their
attitude, began to ride pick-a-back on one of them, who did not seem
offended at this, but carried the child about for a little while.

The ceremony of their presentation will, doubtless, have been described
in various other books; but I cannot forbear mentioning one incident. As
soon as the curtains of the throne were drawn aside, and they saw the
King wearing all his decorations and ablaze with jewels, they put their
hands up to their eyes, pretending to be dazzled by the splendour of his
presence, and then they flung themselves down at full length upon the
ground, the better to express their adoration.

I invited them to visit me at the Chateau de Clagny, my favourite
country-seat, and there I caused a sumptuous collation to be served to
them in accordance with their tastes. Plain roast meat they ate with
avidity; other dishes seemed to inspire them with distrust, - they looked
closely at them, and then went off to something else.

I do not interfere in affairs of State, but I wanted to know from what
source in so remote a country they could have obtained any positive
information as to the secrets of the Court of France. Through the
interpreter, they replied that three travellers - missionaries - had stayed
for a couple of months with their master, the King of Arda, and the good
fathers had told them "that Madame de Montespan was the second spouse of
the great King." These same missionaries had chosen the sort of presents
which they were to give me.




CHAPTER XXIX.

Comte de Vegin, Abbe of Saint Germain des Pres. - Revenues Required, but
Not the Cowl. - Discussion between the King and the Marquise. - Madame
Scarron Chosen as Arbiter. - An Unanswerable Argument.


The wealthy abbey of Saint Germain des Pres - [Yielding a revenue of five
hundred thousand livres.] - was vacant; the King appointed thereto his
son, the Comte de Vegin, and as the Benedictine monks secretly complained
that they should have given to them as chief a child almost still in its
cradle, the King instructed the grand almoner to remind them that they
had had as abbes in preceding reigns princes who were married and of
warlike tastes. "Such abuses," said the prelate, "were more than
reprehensible; his Majesty is incapable of wishing to renew them. As to
the Prince's extreme youth, that is in no way prejudicial to you, my
brethren, as monseigneur will be suitably represented by his
vicar-general until such time as he is able to assume the governorship
himself."

"Is it your intention to condemn my son to be an ecclesiastic?" I asked
the King, in amazement.

"Madame, these are my views," he answered: "If the Comte de Vegin as he
grows up should continue to show pluck and a taste for things military,
as by birth he is bound to do, we will relieve him of the abbey on the
eve of his marriage, while he will have profited thereby up to that time.
If, on the contrary, my son should show but inferior mental capacity, and



Online LibraryFrançoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart MontespanMemoirs of Madame la Marquise de Montespan — Complete → online text (page 6 of 30)