The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume VI., by Madame La Marquise De Montespan
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Title: The Memoirs of Madame de Montespan, Volume VI. Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.
Author: Madame La Marquise De Montespan
Release Date: September 29, 2006 [EBook #3852]
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MARQUISE DE MONTESPAN ***
Produced by David Widger
MEMOIRS OF MADAME LA MARQUISE DE MONTESPAN
Written by Herself
Being the Historic Memoirs of the Court of Louis XIV.
The Court Travels in Picardy and Flanders.—The Boudoir Navy.—Madame de
Montespan Is Not Invited.—The King Relates to Her the Delights of the
Journey.—Reflections of the Marquise.
The King, consoled as he was for the death of the Duchesse de Fontanges, did not, on that account, return to that sweet and agreeable intimacy which had united us for the space of eleven or twelve years. He approached me as one comes to see a person of one's acquaintance, and it was more than obvious that his only bond with me was his children.
Being a man who loved pomp and show, he resolved upon a journey in Flanders,—a journey destined to furnish him, as well as his Court, with numerous and agreeable distractions, and to give fresh alarm to his neighbours.
Those "Chambers of Reunion," as they were called, established at Metz and at Brisach, competed with each other in despoiling roundly a host of great proprietors, under the pretext that their possessions had formerly belonged to Alsace, and that this Alsace had been ceded to us by the last treaties. The Prince Palatine of the Rhine saw himself stripped, on this occasion, of the greater part of the land which he had inherited from his ancestors, and when he would present a memoir on this subject to the ministers, M. de Croissy-Colbert answered politely that he was in despair at being unable to decide the matter himself; but that the Chambers of Metz and Brisach having been instituted to take cognisance of it, it was before these solemn tribunals that he must proceed.
The Palatine lost, amongst other things, the entire county of Veldentz, which was joined to the church of the Chapter of Verdun.
The King, followed by the Queen and all his Court,—by Monsieur le Dauphin, Madame la Dauphine and the legitimate princes, whom their households accompanied as well,—set out for Flanders in the month of July. Madame de Maintenon, as lady in waiting, went on this journey; and of me, superintendent of the Queen's Council, they did not even speak.
The first town at which this considerable Court stopped was at Boulogne, in Picardy, the fortifications of which were being repaired. On the next day the King went on horseback to visit the port of Ambleteuse; thence he set out for Calais, following the line of the coast, while the ladies took the same course more rapidly. He inspected the harbours and diverted himself by taking a sail in a wherry. He then betook himself to Dunkirk, where the Marquis de Seignelay—son of Colbert—had made ready a very fine man-of-war with which to regale their Majesties. The Chevalier de Ury, who commanded her, showed them all the handling of it, which was for those ladies, and for the Court, a spectacle as pleasant as it was novel. The whole crew was very smart, and the vessel magnificently equipped. There was a sham fight, and then the vessel was boarded. The King took as much pleasure in this sight as if Fontanges had been the heroine of the fete, and our ladies, to please him, made their hands sore in applauding. This naval fight terminated in a great feast, which left nothing to be desired in the matter of sumptuousness and delicacy.
On the following day, there was a more formal fight between two frigates, which had also been prepared for this amusement.
The King was in a galley as spectator; the Queen was in another. The Chevalier de Lery took the helm of that of the King; the Capitaine de Selingue steered that of the Queen. The sea was calm, and there was just enough wind to set the two frigates in motion. They cannonaded one another briskly for an hour, getting the weather gauge in turn; after this, the combat came to an end, and they returned to the town to the sound of instruments and the noise of cannon.
The King gave large bounties to the crew, as a token of his satisfaction.
The prince was on board his first vessel, when the Earl of Oxford, and the Colonel, afterwards the Duke of Marlborough, despatched by the King of England, came to pay him a visit of compliment on behalf of that sovereign.
The Duke of Villa-Hermosa, Spanish Governor of the Low Countries, paid him the same compliment in the name of his master.
Both parties were given audience on this magnificent vessel, where M. de
Seignelay had raised a sort of throne of immense height.
(All this time Mademoiselle de Fontanges lay in her coffin, recovering from her confinement.)
From Dunkirk the Court moved to Ypres, visiting all the places on the way, and arrived at Lille in Flanders on the 1st of August. From Lille, where the diversions lasted five or six days, they moved to Valenciennes, thence to Condo, meeting everywhere with the same honours, the same tokens of gladness. They returned to Sedan by Le Quenoy, Bouchain, Cambrai; and the end of the month of August found the Court once more at Versailles.
I profited by this absence to go and breathe a little at my chateau of Petit-Bourg, where I was accompanied by Mademoiselle de Blois, and the young Comte de Toulouse; after which I betook myself to the mineral waters of Bourbonne, for which I have a predilection.
On my return, the King related to me all these frivolous diversions of frigates and vessels that I have just mentioned; but with as much fire as if he had been but eighteen years old, and with the same cordiality as if I might have taken part in amusements from which he had excluded me.
How is it that a clever man can forget the proprieties to such a degree, and expose himself to the secret judgments which must be formed of him, in spite of himself and however reluctantly?
The Duchesse d'Orleans.—The Duchesse de Richelieu.—An Epigram of Madame de Maintenon.—An Epigram of the King to His Brother.
Madame la Dauphine brought into the world a son, christened Louis at the font, to whom the King a few moments afterwards gave the title of the Duke of Burgundy. We had become accustomed, little by little, to the face of this Dauphine, who (thanks to the counsels and instruction of her lady in waiting) adopted French manners promptly enough, succeeded in doing her hair in a satisfactory manner, and in making an appearance which met with general approval. Madame de Maintenon, for all her politeness and forethought, never succeeded in pleasing her; and these two women, obliged to see each other often from their relative positions, suffered martyrdom when they