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Memoirs of Louis XIV and His Court and of the Regency — Volume 05

108 pages
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs of Louis XIV., Volume 5 by Duc de Saint-SimonThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online atwww.gutenberg.netTitle: The Memoirs of Louis XIV., Volume 5 And His Court and of The RegencyAuthor: Duc de Saint-SimonRelease Date: December 3, 2004 [EBook #3864]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE MEMOIRS OF LOUIS XIV., ***Produced by David WidgerMEMOIRS OF LOUIS XIV AND HIS COURT AND OF THEREGENCYBY THE DUKE OF SAINT-SIMONVOLUME 5.CHAPTER XXXIIITwo very different persons died towards the latter part of this year. The first was Lamoignon, Chief President; thesecond, Ninon, known by the name of Mademoiselle de l'Enclos. Of Lamoignon I will relate a single anecdote, curiousand instructive, which will show the corruption of which he was capable.One day—I am speaking of a time many years previous to the date of the occurrences just related—one day there was agreat hunting party at Saint Germain. The chase was pursued so long, that the King gave up, and returned to SaintGermain. A number of courtiers, among whom was M. de Lauzun, who related this story to me, continued their sport; andjust as darkness was coming on, discovered that they had lost their way. After a time, they espied a light, by which theyguided ...
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Memoirs ofLouis XIV., Volume 5 by Duc de Saint-SimonThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere atno cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under theterms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Memoirs of Louis XIV., Volume 5 AndHis Court and of The RegencyAuthor: Duc de Saint-SimonRelease Date: December 3, 2004 [EBook #3864]Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK THE MEMOIRS OF LOUIS XIV., ***Produced by David Widger
CHAPTER XXXIIITwo very different persons died towards the latterpart of this year. The first was Lamoignon, ChiefPresident; the second, Ninon, known by the nameof Mademoiselle de l'Enclos. Of Lamoignon I willrelate a single anecdote, curious and instructive,which will show the corruption of which he wascapable.One day—I am speaking of a time many yearsprevious to the date of the occurrences just related—one day there was a great hunting party at SaintGermain. The chase was pursued so long, that theKing gave up, and returned to Saint Germain. Anumber of courtiers, among whom was M. deLauzun, who related this story to me, continuedtheir sport; and just as darkness was coming on,discovered that they had lost their way. After atime, they espied a light, by which they guided theirsteps, and at length reached the door of a kind ofcastle. They knocked, they called aloud, theynamed themselves, and asked for hospitality. Itwas then between ten and eleven at night, andtowards the end of autumn. The door was openedto them. The master of the house came forth. Hemade them take their boots off, and warmthemselves; he put their horses into his stables;and at the same time had a supper prepared forhis guests, who stood much in need of it. They didnot wait long for the meal; yet when served itproved excellent; the wines served with it, too,
were of several kinds, and excellent likewise: as forthe master of the house, he was so polite andrespectful, yet without being ceremonious or eager,that it was evident he had frequented the bestcompany. The courtiers soon learnt that his namevitas Fargues, that the place was called Courson,and that he had lived there in retirement severalyears. After having supped, Fargues showed eachof them into a separate bedroom, where they werewaited upon by his valets with every properattention. In the morning, as soon as the courtiershad dressed themselves, they found an excellentbreakfast awaiting them; and upon leaving thetable they saw their horses ready for them, and asthoroughly attended to as they had beenthemselves. Charmed with the politeness and withthe manners of Fargues, and touched by hishospitable reception of them, they made him manyoffers of service, and made their way back to SaintGermain. Their non-appearance on the previousnight had been the common talk, their return andthe adventure they had met with was no less so.These gentlemen were then the very flower of theCourt, and all of them very intimate with the King.They related to him, therefore, their story, themanner of their reception, and highly praised themaster of the house and his good cheer. The Kingasked his name, and, as soon as he heard it,exclaimed, "What, Fargues! is he so near here,then?" The courtiers redoubled their praises, andthe King said no more; but soon after, went to theQueen-mother, and told her what had happened.
Fargues, indeed, was no stranger, either to her orto the King. He had taken a prominent part in themovements of Paris against the Court and CardinalMazarin. If he had not been hanged, it wasbecause he was well supported by his party, whohad him included in the amnesty granted to thosewho had been engaged in these troubles. Fearing,however, that the hatred of his enemies mightplace his life in danger if he remained in Paris, heretired from the capital to this country-house whichhas just been mentioned, where he continued tolive in strict privacy, even when the death ofCardinal Mazarin seemed to render such seclusionno longer necessary.The King and the Queen-mother, who hadpardoned Fargues in spite of themselves, weremuch annoyed at finding that he was living inopulence and tranquillity so near the Court; thoughthim extremely bold to do so; and determined topunish him for this and for his former insolence.They directed Lamoignon, therefore, to find outsomething in the past life of Fargues for whichpunishment might be awarded; and Lamoignon,eager to please, and make a profit out of hiseagerness, was not long in satisfying them. Hemade researches, and found means to implicateFargues in a murder that had been committed inParis at the height of the troubles. Officers wereaccordingly sent to Courson, and its owner wasarrested.Fargues was much astonished when he learnt ofwhat he was accused. He exculpated himself,
nevertheless, completely; alleging, moreover, thatas the murder of which he was accused had beencommitted during the troubles, the amnesty inwhich he was included effaced all memory of thedeed, according to law and usage, which had neverbeen contested until this occasion. The courtierswho had been so well treated by the unhappy man,did everything they could with the judges and theKing to obtain the release of the accused. It was allin vain. Fargues was decapitated at once, and allhis wealth was given by way of recompense to theChief- President Lamoignon, who had no scruplethus to enrich himself with the blood of theinnocent.The other person who died at the same time was,as I have said, Ninon, the famous courtesan,known, since age had compelled her to quit thattrade, as Mademoiselle de l'Enclos. She was a newexample of the triumph of vice carried on cleverlyand repaired by some virtue. The stir that shemade, and still more the disorder that she causedamong the highest and most brilliant youth,overcame the extreme indulgence that, not withoutcause, the Queen-mother entertained for personswhose conduct was gallant, and more than gallant,and made her send her an order to retire into aconvent. But Ninon, observing that no especialconvent was named, said, with a great courtesy, tothe officer who brought the order, that, as theoption was left to her, she would choose "theconvent of the Cordeliers at Paris;" which impudentjoke so diverted the Queen that she left her alonefor the future. Ninon never had but one lover at a
time— but her admirers were numberless—so thatwhen wearied of one incumbent she told him sofrankly, and took another: The abandoned onemight groan and complain; her decree was withoutappeal; and this creature had acquired such aninfluence, that the deserted lovers never dared totake revenge on the favoured one, and were toohappy to remain on the footing of friend of thehouse. She sometimes kept faithful to one, whenhe pleased her very much, during an entirecampaign.Ninon had illustrious friends of all sorts, and had somuch wit that she preserved them all and keptthem on good terms with each other; or, at least,no quarrels ever came to light. There was anexternal respect and decency about everything thatpassed in her house, such as princesses of thehighest rank have rarely been able to preserve intheir intrigues.In this way she had among her friends a selectionof the best members of the Court; so that itbecame the fashion to be received by her, and itwas useful to be so, on account of the connectionsthat were thus formed.There was never any gambling there, nor loudlaughing, nor disputes, nor talk about religion orpolitics; but much and elegant wit, ancient andmodern stories, news of gallantries, yet withoutscandal. All was delicate, light, measured; and sheherself maintained the conversation by her wit andher great knowledge of facts. The respect which,
strange to say, she had acquired, and the numberand distinction of her friends and acquaintances,continued when her charms ceased to attract; andwhen propriety and fashion compelled her to useonly intellectual baits. She knew all the intrigues ofthe old and the new Court, serious and otherwise;her conversation was charming; she wasdisinterested, faithful, secret, safe to the lastdegree; and, setting aside her frailty, virtuous andfull of probity. She frequently succoured her friendswith money and influence; constantly did them themost important services, and very faithfully keptthe secrets or the money deposits that wereconfided to her.She had been intimate with Madame de Maintenonduring the whole of her residence at Paris; butMadame de Maintenon, although not daring todisavow this friendship, did not like to hear herspoken about.She wrote to Ninon with amity from time to time,even until her death; and Ninon in like manner,when she wanted to serve any friend in whom shetook great interest, wrote to Madame deMaintenon, who did her what service she requiredefficaciously and with promptness.But since Madame de Maintenon came to power,they had only seen each other two or three times,and then in secret.Ninon was remarkable for her repartees. One thatshe made to the last Marechal de Choiseul is worth
repeating. The Marechal was virtue itself, but notfond of company or blessed with much wit. Oneday, after a long visit he had paid her, Ninongaped, looked at the Marechal, and cried:"Oh, my lord! how many virtues you make medetest!"A line from I know not what play. The laughter atthis may be imagined. L'Enclos lived, long beyondher eightieth year, always healthy, visited,respected. She gave her last years to God, andher death was the news of the day. The singularityof this personage has made me extend myobservations upon her.A short time after the death of Mademoiselle del'Enclos, a terrible adventure happened toCourtenvaux, eldest son of M. de Louvois.Courtenvaux was commander of the Cent-Suisses,fond of obscure debauches; with a ridiculous voice,miserly, quarrelsome, though modest andrespectful; and in fine a very stupid fellow. TheKing, more eager to know all that was passing thanmost people believed, although they gave himcredit for not a little curiosity in this respect, hadauthorised Bontems to engage a number of Swissin addition to those posted at the doors, and in theparks and gardens. These attendants had ordersto stroll morning, noon, and night, along thecorridors, the passages, the staircases, even intothe private places, and, when it was fine, in thecourt-yards and gardens; and in secret to watchpeople, to follow them, to notice where they went,