The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume IV., by Madame La Marquise De Montespan
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Title: The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume IV. Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.
Author: Madame La Marquise De Montespan
Release Date: September 29, 2006 [EBook #3850]
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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.
President de Nesmond.—Melladoro.—A Complacent Husband and His Love-sick
President de Nesmond—upright, clear-headed magistrate as he was—was of very great service to me at the Courts of Justice. He always managed to oblige me and look after my interests and my rights in any legal dispute of mine, or when I had reason to fear annoyance on the part of my husband.
I will here relate the grief that his young wife caused him, and it will be seen that, by the side of this poor President, M. de Montespan might count himself lucky. Having long been a widower, he was in some measure accustomed to this state, until love laid a snare for him just at the age of sixty-five.
In the garden that lay below his windows—a garden owned by his neighbour, a farmer—he saw Clorinde. She was this yeoman's only daughter. He at once fell passionately in love with her, as David once loved Bathsheba.
The President married Clorinde, who was very pleased to have a fine name and a title. But her husband soon saw—if not with surprise, at least with pain—that his wife did not love him. A young and handsome Spaniard, belonging to the Spanish Legation, danced one day with Clorinde; to her he seemed as radiant as the god of melody and song. She lost her heart, and without further delay confessed to him this loss.
On returning home, the President said to his youthful consort, "Madame, every one is noticing and censuring your imprudent conduct; even the young Spaniard himself finds it compromising."
"Nothing you say can please me more," she replied, "for this proves that he is aware of my love. As he knows this, and finds my looks to his liking, I hope that he will wish to see me again."
Soon afterwards there was a grand ball given at the Spanish Embassy. Madame de Nesmond managed to secure an invitation, and went with one of her cousins. The young Spaniard did the honours of the evening, and showed them every attention.
As the President was obliged to attend an all-night sitting at the Tourelle,—[The parliamentary criminal court.]—and as these young ladies did not like going home alone,—for their residence was some way off,—the young Spaniard had the privilege of conducting them to their coach and of driving back with them. After cards and a little music, they had supper about daybreak; and when the President returned, at five o'clock, he saw Melladoro, to whom he was formally introduced by madame.
The President's welcome was a blend of surprise, anger, forced condescension, and diplomatic politeness. All these shades of feeling were easily perceived by the Spaniard, who showed not a trace of astonishment. This was because Clorinde's absolute sway over her husband was as patent as the fact that, in his own house, the President was powerless to do as he liked.
Melladoro, who was only twenty years old, thought he had made a charming conquest. He asked to be allowed to present his respects occasionally, when Clorinde promptly invited him to do so, in her husband's name as well as in her own.
It was now morning, and he took leave of the ladies. Two days after this he reappeared; then he came five or six times a week, until at last it was settled that a place should be laid for him every day at the President's table.
That year it was M. de Nesmond's turn to preside at the courts during vacation-time. He pleaded urgent motives of health, which made it imperative for him to have country air and complete rest. Another judge consented to forego his vacation and take his place on the bench for four months; so M. de Nesmond was able to leave Paris.
When the time came to set out by coach, madame went off into violent hysterics; but the magistrate, backed up by his father-in-law, showed firmness, and they set out for the Chateau de Nesmond, about thirty leagues from Paris.
M. de Nesmond found the country far from enjoyable. His wife, who always sat by herself in her dressing-gown and seldom consented to see a soul, on more than one occasion left her guests at table in order to sulk and mope in her closet.
She fell ill. During her periods of suffering and depression, she continually mentioned the Spaniard's name. Failing his person, she desired to have his portrait. Alarmed at his wife's condition, the President agreed to write a letter himself to the author of all this trouble, who soon sent the lady a handsome sweetmeat-box ornamented with his crest and his portrait.
At the sight of this, Clorinde became like another woman. She had her hair dressed and put on a smart gown, to show the portrait how deeply enamoured she was of the original.
"Monsieur," she said to her husband, "I am the only daughter of a wealthy man, who, when he gave me to a magistrate older than himself, did not intend to sacrifice me. You have been young, no doubt, and you, therefore, ought to know how revolting to youth, all freshness and perfume, are the cuddlings and caresses of decrepitude. As yet I do not detest you, but it is absolutely impossible to love you. On the contrary, I am in love with Melladoro; perhaps in your day you were as attractive as he is, and knew how to make the most of what you then possessed. Now, will you please me by going back to Paris? I shall be ever so grateful to you if you will. Or must you spend the autumn in this gloomy abode of your ancestors? To show myself obedient, I will consent; only in this case you must send your secretary to the Spanish Legation, and your coach-and-six, to bring Melladoro here without delay."
At this speech M. de Nesmond could no longer hide his disgust, but frankly refused to entertain such a proposal for one moment. Whereupon, his wife gave way to violent grief. She could neither eat nor sleep, and being already in a weakly state, soon developed symptoms which frightened her doctors.
M. de Nesmond was frightened too, and at length sent his rival a polite and pressing invitation to come and stay at the chateau.
This state of affairs went on for six whole years, during which time Madame de Nesmond lavished upon her comely paramour all the wealth amassed by her frugal, orderly spouse.
At last the President could stand it no longer, but went and made a bitter complaint to the King. His Majesty at once asked the Spanish Ambassador to have Melladoro recalled.
At this news, Clorinde was seized with violent convulsions; so severe, indeed,