THE MEMOIRS OF MADAME DE MONTESPAN - V6
THE MEMOIRS OF MADAME DE MONTESPAN - V6
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
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
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
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?