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Pitture of the Court of France in the Minority of Louis XV. (1715), and of
the private life of the Regent (the Duke of Orleans). By the Duc de Richelieut
HE first impreffion which the ral and favourable opinion entertain
new appointment of the Duke ed uf the Duke of Orieans, detested of Orleans to the Regency made up- him, and secretly fomented cabals aon the minds of the people was fa- gainst him. They composed a fable vourable to the Duke. The whole which was attributed to Madame his talk was about his affability, his huma- muthar, because she herself repeat:d it. dity, his decisive, but gracious deport- ““ There was once, said the fable, a ment, and especially his openness and great Qucen, who, upon being delibis loyalty. His campaigns in Italy vered of a beautiful prince, invited, and in Spain were recolle&cd, the according to custom, wl the fa ries of barties he had gained, and the places the empyreum, one only excupted, he had taken were spoken of, with whom he forgot. The feast was cethat satisfaction so natural to French- lebrated with magnificence, and he men, who are always exceedingly at- fairies, crowding round the charining tached to their princes, especially to little infant, each of them give him a those who are brave. It was said gift, as is the practice in luch cases. that he was well inforined, and even One gave him courage, another geritlelearned. Artists and men of letters, nefs, a third wit, a fourth judgment, Fontenelle especially, who was then the fifth beauty, the fixth strength ; the fashionable autiior, and gave the others bestowed on him learning, a ton in company, praised him up to love of the fine arts and generotiy. the kies; the parliament, charmed At this moment approach.d ine newith being called to the adminiftra- glected fairy, who, full of rage and tion of affairs, and of being able to secret resentment, resolved to give offer remonftrances to kings, attached him a gift favourable in appearance, themselves to bim; but the fevere, but which, being carried to excefs, the bigotted, or the hypocritical of should become fatal to him. This the old Court, the party of Madame was pliancy of temper, without deterMaintenon, though not numerous, yet mining how far it was to be carried; powerful, the Jesuits, the Pope's and accordingly the meant that it Nuncio, the Molinists, and the Priests should reuder useleis to him all his oof Sc Sulpice, offended at the gene ther good qualities."
+ Memoires du Marechal Due de Richelieu, The subject of these Memoirs is a grand nephew of the famous Cardinal de Richelieu, They are curious; and, though written in the first person, are the work of another pen. They were coinposed, under the Duke's own eye, from materials in his poffeffion. “ 'The parifa regiilers at Versailles, fays he, do not record the day of my birth, nor could I ever discover it, (sometime in 1699): neither will it be calily belicved, that my mother brought me into the world after on.y five months pregnancy, especially by those who are acquuinted with my great age, and the life I have lcd. It is ts nature alone tha: i owe the strength, and at the same time the delicacy of a constitution which has, refied the attacks of time, and of the passions. At the hour of my birth I struggled with death, and was kept in a box filled with cotton. New-born chiden that are weak and delicate Iced only a genial warmth, and my father would not suiierany physician to meddle with a frame so weakly as mine, but ordered me to be left to the operation of nature. It is, theretore, to nature alone that I owe my existence; The repaired the imprudences of my mother, which had hastened my birth, and the has given me that folid constitution which has preserved me to extreme old age, notwithstanding the injuries fullained from excesivan which destroy the strongest."
Account of the private life of Ealiness of temper was indeed the they were men of spirit, of vivacity, principal defect in the character of and wit. He himself bad beltowed this prince, the source of all the er- on these favourites the name of roués, rors of his regency, and of his con- an equivocal epithet, which they ex. nection with dangerous or contempti- plained, by saying, that they were ble perfons : and if this facility was ready to be broke on the wheel for him; of advantage to him in the study of but which he explained by adding, the profound sciences and arts, it was that they were worthy of being broken also the cause of his allo:ving himself on the wheel, not like ordinary maleto be governed by Law and Dubois, factors, but as courtiers, who were people unworthy of his confidence. ready to applaud every action of their
The great fault of the regent, and prince, however voluptuous. which he had imbibed from the Ab- It was the custom of the regent to bé Dubois, the person who had the dedicate a part of the day to bulines; care of his education, was the want but towards evening he retired with of all principle_ either of religion his mistresses and his roues to sup, to or morality. The system of mo- play, to drink, &c. and to season the dern philosophers was then un repast with the most diverting news known; but Dubois had studied the of the town ; all of them about nine principles of that sect of Pagan philo
Pagan philo- o'clock repaired to the Palais Royal Tophers who taught that all actions with Madame de Mouchi, Madame are in themselves indifferent, and were de Sabran, the Dutchess of Gelvres, rendered bad only by law or custom; and often Madanie de Berry, the re; he had instilled these principles into gent's own daughter, who, though
the mind of his pupil, and had taught young, was initiated in all the noc: him that laws are not made for prin- turnal mysteries.
ces, but are made by them at their To this strange fociety was somepleasure. Thus sensual pleasures be times joined a detachment of opera coming his ruling paffion, he confi- girls for the entertainment of the dered the laws as trifles, not to be company : there were also comedians segarded, and the restraints of strict and other persons, whose only recomorality as the work of popular opi- mendation was the being pofféffed of nion, which he only sometimes re- a certain degree of wit, whose talents spected on account of the prejudices lay in repartee, or who were knows of the people. He boafted of his to be habituated to debauchery, parties of pleasure, of the nocturnal There virtue, and even justice were exceffes he committed with his friends, criticised; they ridiculed all the maxof the favours he had received from ims of the old court, which they the fair ; so that one person drew his termed the antiquaille; all servants portrait in two words before the late an: lacqueys were excluded; every king who approved of it; he called one served himself; and when the acbir a Braggart of vice. Business cost customed hour arrived, the doors him licile trouble, on account of his were Mut, and had all Paris been in quickness of apprehension ; but he flames, the regent was uiterly inachad naturally an averfion to labour. cellible. In that company there were
Dubois had inspired him with such neither princes, nor con cdians, nor a bad opinion of mankind in general, miftreffes, nor repedt, nor ccremory: that he confounded the honest man all ranks were confounded, ali diswith the knave, saying that all werë tinctions levelled; he who said the alike, and even adding, that those he best things was the most honoured ; had honoured with his friendship sometimes, even, (shall I venture to frere no better than the rest, but that tell it?) the candles were extinguish
ed, and the Duke of Orleans, who ness; and had he not spent the night was naturally of a prying and curious in that way, he would have employed disposition, and fond of scandalous a. it in wandering about with his comnecdotes, sometimes had a closet dexte. panions. His inclination to ramble sously filled with torches, the door of to a distance with a few friends, even which he suddenly opened, and dis on foot, often alarmed his family; he covered the secrets of his company. would sometimes enter like a com
In these orgies the regent learned mon person into companies known for all the news of the day; there, he the freedom of their principles, or for faid, he formed bis judgment of the the diffoluteness of their manners ; merit of perfons of distinction, and as and all companies were agreeable to people were allowed and encouraged him if wit
, and livertinism, or literaio speak without reserve, he there ture and the fine arts, were to be ftudied the public opinion ; but be found there. Such was his private kept his own secret, and never gave life, and no body can speak of it with his company to understand what use more ceriainty than I, for I was ofhe made of the liberties they took; ten an ocular witness of the scenes I he often rallied even himself and bis describe. I was likewise often a parmistreiles, who were generally all taker of the misfortunes he experipresent, the most favoured never being enced, and I strictly recommended to able to exclude her rivals, This the historian of my time, not to pass scene laited till morning, when many over in silence the picture of these of them went home to sleep off their scenes which faithfully reprefent the fatigues, and acquire strength for sup- manners of that period. I gave him porting the same riot the next day. the materials, and he promised to
No one was more agreeable in supprefs only such relations as were these nocturnal societies than the re- unworthy of history. gent himself: he had a great deal of The Court of the late king had sweetness, politeness, and affability ; been so severe during the last years he never offended any one, at least, of that monarch, and Madame de to his face'; but always behaved with Maintenon had introduced so much the greatest gentlenels and urbanity. ceremony and reserve into its pleaIn conversation he was often displea. sures, that France now felt itself reliefed when his friends were attacked; ved from a yoke, except the devobut he always contented himself with tees, and excused the regent for all saying, that he would be happy if the his excefies. Ar the death of the fubjeét was changed. This he always King, the Regent was the idol of all faid to his favourites, when they were the youth, and had no enemies but aspeaking ill of Law or any other per- mong the remains of the old court, fons that were unworthy of his fa- and among the old people who were rours. Though in love with every no longer ambitious, or who did not pretty woman he law, he was jealous with to conform their rigid morals to of none, being more attached to the the transient circumstances of the indulgences, than to the delicacies of time; he was, belides, much beloved the passion. He was free in his dif- by the officers who had seen him in course, but he knew how to diffemble; Italy and in Spain, where he had comand though he perfectly well under: manded with so much fplendor and stood human nature, he behaved as fuccess; the military youth loudly apif he did not.
plauded his pleasures and his nectarHe had so much accustomed him- nal parties, eagerly dearing to be adself to these nocturnal assemblies, that mitted to them, and for tha: purpose they became necesary to his happi- endeavouring to qualify themselves,
Account of Madame de Berry his daughter by acquiring that never failing title, manners, a disgust at etiquette, and celebrity in libertinism.
fuch a love for liberty, that she gave Such was the character of the re- way to every emotion of her temper, gent, and of the lords of his secret and to every impulse of sense. Be.
The princesies who had pre- fides the amours which she was referved the ton of the old
court, ported to have had with her fm, the Jived with much reserve and de- bad always several other lovers, whom decorum ; and the Dutchess of Or- she often changed, and often took Jeans, who was the daughter of Lou- back. is XIV. by Madame de Montefpan, Notwithstanding this temper of fanever quitted that air of reserve in cility and libertinilm, Madame de her manners and discourse which she Berry was often distracted with reinherited from her father; she was morse. Having been partly educated only a legitimated princefs of France. in the principles of the old Court, and
She was, however, so proud of be- partly in those of the new, the was ing a daughter of Louis XIV. that by turns tormented with the reproaches the always gave her husband and o. of religious libertines, and of libertines thers to understand, that she had done without religion. When she was unhonour to the Duke of Orleans by der the horrors of repentance, the used her marriage with him. To fich a to quit the world and endeavour to length did she carry her conceit, that reconcile herself to the God of the the faction, adverse to the legitimated penitent: She then buried herself in princes, gave her the name of Ma- the innermost recesses of a convent of dame Lucifer; an expreffion which the Carmelites, with whom the fafted and regent himself fometimes made use prayed, rising in the middle of the of, cven in public; hence arose that night to the lated devotions, groancoldness which the testified all hering over the errors of her pad life, life for her husband, and the haughty and undergoing the discipline of pedeportment which the always affected nance; then, whenever the defire of towards him, shewing neither affection pleasure began to torment her anew, to him when he behaved to her as a she would throw away her rosaries husband, nor jealoufy when he aban- and her confeffors, appear again as if doned her.
from the other world, return to her The Dutchefs of Berry, daughter favourite Riom, or some other lover, of the regent, was endowed with and hold her court as usual ; thus much wit, and a lively imaginarion; pailing the period of her fhort life iq but fo foolish witiral as, like her fa- alternate paroxyfins of dislipation and ther, to look upon thofe enterprises repentance; and, as Louis XIV. and as the moft laudable, that were the the great Dauphin bad made it famoft fpirited and bold.
fhionable to marry their mistresses, Her figure was graceful and com- Madame de Berry conceived the de. manding, her conversation delightful; fign of marrying her lover. Maurepas bat a disposition, eagerly turned to says in his memoirs, that the married pleasure, lpoiled all that was beautiful, Riom in her own chapel, and that and grand, and natural in this prin- the Curé of St. Sulpice performed cess, and made her relish the princi- the ceremony. Riom, with whom I ples of her father, who even introdu- was very intimate, never would conced her into those nocturnal asiem- fess his marriage to me ; but he never blies which he frequented with wo- denied it. He had, however, nothing men of libertine or suspicious charac- in him that could charm that priaicrs, and with the companions of his cefs. He was ill made, and had the excefles. The Dutchess of Berry look of a Chinese, but he had made squired in that focicty a frecdom of Madame de Berry believe, that the