The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume II., by Madame La Marquise De Montespan
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Title: The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume II. Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.
Author: Madame La Marquise De Montespan
Release Date: September 29, 2006 [EBook #3848]
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Produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF MADAME LA MARQUISE DE MONTESPAN
Written by Herself
Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.
Monsieur's Jealousy.—Diplomacy.—Discretion.—The Chevalier de
Lorraine's Revenge.—The King's Suspicions.—His Indignation.—Public
Version of the Matter.—The Funeral Sermon.
After six months of wedlock, Henrietta of England had become so beautiful that the King drew every one's attention to this change, as if he were not unmindful of the fact that he had given this charming person to his brother instead of reserving her for himself by marrying her.
Between cousins german attentions are permissible. The Court, however, was not slow to notice the attentions paid by the King to this young English princess, and Monsieur, wholly indifferent though he was as regarded his wife, deemed it a point of honour to appear offended thereat. Ever a slave to the laws of good breeding, the King showed much self-sacrifice in curbing this violent infatuation of his. (I was Madame's maid of honour at the time.) As he contemplated a Dutch expedition, in which the help of England would have counted for much, he resolved to send a negotiator to King Charles. The young Princess was her brother's pet; it was upon her that the King's choice fell.
She crossed the Channel under the pretext of paying a flying visit to her native country and her brother, but, in reality, it was to treat of matters of the utmost importance.
Upon her return, Monsieur, the most curious and inquisitive of mortals, importuned her in a thousand ways, seeking to discover her secret; but she was a person both faithful and discreet. Of her interview and journey he got only such news as was already published on the housetops. At such reticence he took umbrage; he grumbled, sulked, and would not speak to his wife.
The Chevalier de Lorraine, who in that illustrious and luckless household was omnipotent, insulted the Princess in the most outrageous manner. Finding such daily slights and affronts unbearable, Madame complained to the Kings of France and England, who both exiled the Chevalier.
Monsieur de Lorraine d'Armagnac, before leaving, gave instructions to Morel, one of Monsieur's kitchen officials, to poison the Princess, and this monster promptly executed the order by rubbing poison on her silver goblet.
I no longer belonged to Madame's household,—my marriage had caused a change in my duties; but ever feeling deep attachment for this adorable princess, I hastened to Saint Cloud directly news reached me of her illness. To my horror, I saw the sudden change which had come over her countenance; her horrible agony drew tears from the most callous, and approaching her I kissed her hand, in spite of her confessor, who sought to constrain her to be silent. She then repeatedly told me that she was dying from the effects of poison.
This she also told the King, whom she perceived shed tears of consternation and distress.
That evening, at Versailles, the King said to me, "If this crime is my brother's handiwork, his head shall fall on the scaffold."
When the body was opened, proof of poison was obtained, and poison of the most corrosive sort, for the stomach was eaten into in three places, and there was general inflammation.
The King summoned his brother, in order to force him to explain so heinous a crime. On perceiving his mien, Monsieur became pale and confused. Rushing upon him sword in hand, the King was for demolishing him on the spot. The captain of the guard hastened thither, and Monsieur swore by the Holy Ghost that he was guiltless of the death of his dear wife.
Leaving him a prey to remorse, if guilty he were, the King commanded him to withdraw, and then shut himself up in his closet to prepare a consolatory message to the English Court. According to the written statement, which was also published in the newspapers, Madame had been carried off by an attack of bilious colic. Five or six bribed physicians certified to that effect, and a lying set of depositions, made for mere form's sake, bore out their statements in due course.
The Abbe de Bossuet, charged to preach the funeral sermon, was apparently desirous of being as obliging as the doctors. His homily led off with such fulsome praise of Monsieur, that, from that day forward, he lost all his credit, and sensible people thereafter only looked upon him as a vile sycophant, a mere dealer in flattery and fairy-tales.
Madame Scarron.—Her Petition.—The King's Aversion to Her.—She is
Presented to Madame de Montespan.—The Queen of Portugal Thinks of
Engaging Her.—Madame de Montespan Keeps Her Back.—The Pension
Continued.—The King's Graciousness.—Rage of Mademoiselle d'Aumale.
As all the pensions granted by the Queen-mother had ceased at her demise, the pensioners began to solicit the ministers anew, and all the petitions, as is customary, were sent direct to the King.
One day his Majesty said to me, "Have you ever met in society a young widow, said to be very pretty, but, at the same time, extremely affected? It is to Madame Scarron that I allude, who, both before and after widowhood, has resided at the Marais."
I replied that Madame Scarron was an extremely pleasant person, and not at all affected. I had met her at the Richelieus' or the Albrets', where her charm of manner and agreeable wit had made her in universal request. I added a few words of recommendation concerning her petition, which, unfortunately, had just been torn up, and the King curtly rejoined, "You surprise me, madame; the portrait I had given to me of her was a totally different one."
That same evening, when the young Marquis d'Alincour spoke to me about this petition which had never obtained any answer, I requested him to go and see Madame Scarron as soon as possible, and tell her that, in her own interest, I should be pleased to receive her.
She lost no time in paying me a visit. Her black attire served only to heighten the astounding whiteness of her complexion. Effusively thanking me for interesting myself in her most painful case, she added:
"There is, apparently, some obstacle against me. I have presented two petitions and two memoranda; being unsupported, both have been left unanswered, and I have now just made the following resolve, madame, of which you will not disapprove. M. Scarron, apparently well off, had only a life interest in his property. Upon his death, his debts proved in excess of his capital, and I, deeming it my