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the whole court, which perfectly underflood the matter, used to send to enquire after her health. Once he had a Swifs at her gate, who, not being trained to this management, used to anfwer, without ceremony, to those who came, The Princess is as well as can be expected,
and the child too.
The fifters of this Princefs were not more fcrupulous; M. de Maulevrier-Langeron was the declared lover of Mademoiselle de Sens, and M. de Melun, of Mademoiselle de Clermont. The last mentioned gentleman was killed a hunting in the wood of Boulogne, by a fallow-deer. Mademoiselle de Clermont was of a very indolent difpofition, which made the Grand Duchess ask if this news had given her any emotion.
Mademoiselle de Charolois was fuppofed to be fecretly married to a nobleman of the first rank *, but whom, on account of that etiquette to which the moft auguft perfons are fo abfolutely fubordinate, fhe could not obtain to have openly declared for her husband. This circumftance held them both in the Cardinal's power, and the hopes of prevailing upon him to obtain the confent of his Majefty, neceffarily attached them to his party.
Mademoiselle de Charolois was intimately connected with the Countess of Toulouse, whofe marriage, nearly of the fame kind, being declared, feemed to entitle her to the fame privilege, at least to a toleration, if political views were too repugnant to making it public, for fear of the confequences: though these two Ladies differed from each other in many particulars, the first being addicted to gallantry, and the other a devotee; that the one loved riot, fhew, and noify amufements, and the other delighted in the country, in retirement, and in calmer pleasures, yet they agreed perfectly in other things. Befides intereft, which forms and keeps up fo many connections, prompted Mademoiselle de Charolois to entertain her friendfhip with the Countefs, fince it enabled her to obtain, for herself and her creatures, all the favours she asked of the King.
Lewis XV. went often to hunt at Rambouillet, a feat of the Count of Touloufe, who, fince his marriage, ufed to pafs great part of the year there. This delicious retreat was infinitely agreeable to him, to relax himself from the fatigues of a bufy court to relieve him from the weight of greatnefs, which became cumberous to him as foon as he felt it-and to enable him to lay afide the Monarch. In a word, it was an affectionate friend, who came to pafs fome days in delightful familiarity with his friend: a fmall company of Ladies and Courtiers accompanied him, and partook of this intimacy. In the day-time, the fallow-deer, with which the immenfe park abounded, were the unremitting objects of purfuit. This violent exercife, which was at first a mere paffion with Lewis XV. was imperceptibly become neceffary for his health, which would have been affected by a ftagnation of humours, and for his mind, which was inclined to melancholy. In the evening, he diffipated himself at play, and renewed his ftrength at the table, for the indulgences of which, his exercife
The Prince of Dombes.
gave him the higher relish. There he was contented, because he was free; he was lively, amiable, enlivened the conversation, readily fell in with the fprightlinefs of Mademoiselle de Charolois, and was pleafed with the witty, refined, and delicate fallies of the Countess of Touloufe, who had ferved as a mother to him; who had, in fome measure, brought him forward in the world, and, by encouraging him to get rid of his timidity, had taught him to speak, and to speak with propriety; he was attentive to addrefs himself to every one, and to put this little Court perfectly at eafe: in a word, as he was himfelf fatisfied with the feveral guests, he endeavoured to be agreeable to them in return.
We shall make mention of one anecdote only, to give an idea of the familiarity that reigned in this fociety. One of the Ladies, who was with child, was fuddenly feized with previous pains, announcing an approaching labour. The company was alarmed; and, as the Lady could not be conveyed to Paris, a man-midwife was fent for in great hafle. The King was under the greatest anxiety. "In short," faid his Majefty, "if the operation preffes, who will take it upon "him" M. de la Peyronie, the First Surgeon, anfwered, "I will, "Sir; I have delivered women before."-" Very well,' faid Mademoifelle de Charolois, "but this business requires practice, and you "have perhaps forgotten."-" Don't be in the leaft uneasy, Mademoi"felle," anfwered he, rather piqued at a doubt which hurt his vanity; "one forgets no more how to take them out, than how to put them in." Her Highnefs, highly incenfed, coloured, and left the room, for fear of giving vent to her indignation before the King. The Surgeon was fenfible of the indecency, or rather the impudence of his reply, and, notwith landing all his wit, was much embarraffed, till, turning his abashed countenance to the King, he faw him fmile, which removed his apprehenfions. Mademoiselle de Sens was foon prevailed upon to laugh at this matter, as well as the King.'
As the Monarch advanced in life, his heart became more corrupt, and his manners more diffolute. This fufficiently appears from the following anecdotes :
It was known, how much the Cardinal Fleuri was greedy of power: thofe men who can have no ftability but in times of diforder and licentioufnefs, availed themfelves of his foible in order to compafs their ends. The Cardinal's mistress was the Princess of Carignan that is to fay, he was governed by her, he intrufted her with all the fecrets of the State, and decided nothing but by her advice; for this is the only meaning of a word ufed at Court in this accepttation: the only meaning that can strike us, in the intercoufe between a woman of forty-five, and an old man almost ninety years of age, in whom fenfual gratifications can be nothing more than recollection. The pleasure of commanding the Minifter, who held the Monarch in leading ftrings, was therefore the only one the Princefs enjoyed; but this influence held only by a flight attachment. The King, whofe tenderness for his auguft companion, had been hitherto inviolable, had removed from himself thofe infamous feducers who had attempted to shake it. When the Courtiers artfully attempted to fix the King's eyes upon me inchanting object, he answered coolly, I think
I think the Queen fill more beautiful. But he might at laft grow dif gulted of her; the number of children he had brought him, was likely to accelerate this fatal moment; and what a revolution was there not to be apprehended in fuch a circumftance? The beft method of preventing its confequences, was to bring it about defignedly; and to raise to the bed of his Majefty fome Syren of whom one might be fure; and who, fatisfied with the enjoyment of her lover, would leave matters of politics and bufinefs to his Eminence. The Princess was made to understand this, the infinuated it to the Cardinal, and a plot was laid in confequence, which would have deceived virtue itself. The Queen's Confeffor was gained over: this devotee piously gave her Majetty to understand, that having now fulfilled the duties of her ftation, in giving an heir to the throne, and Princeffes to be the edification of i., it would be a circumftance very agreeable to God, if in future fhe would practife the most excellent of all virtues, chastity, by weaning herfelt now and then from carnal pleafures, which were always calculated to bend our fouls towards the earth, instead of raising them to heaven our real country. Undoubtedly, had Mary been of a different difpofition, thefe counfels would have had a different effect; but all her fenfes were abforbed in devotion. One night, when her husband, heated with wine, had stolen, notwithstanding the impropriety of his fituation, into the Queen's bed-chamber, the Queen gave way too eafily to her difgult, and repulfed him with marks of averfion, humiliating to the young Monarch. He fwore he would not receive twice a fimilar affront, and kept his word.
Then was the time for the corrupters to play their part; they had now nothing to overcome but his baihiulness, which was increafed by a timidity that made an effentia! part of his character. The Countess de Mailly, Lady of the bed-chamber to the Queen, was judged to be the propereft perfon for the execution of this project. She was as it were in a state of widowhood, without children; he was a woman of probity, and deftitute of ambition; the alfo lived in friendship with the Countefs of Touloufe, was incapable of taking an improper advantage of her fituation, and of giving the leaft umbrage to the Cardinal; she was moreover of a very fond and careffing difpofition, and poffeffed the neceffary talents for feducing the bashful Monarch. She was neither young, nor hand tome, nor even pretty; was near thirtyfive years old; and had nothing remarkable in her face except a pair of large black eyes, well opened, and very lively; her afpect was naturally ftern; but that being foftened in favour of the King, preferved only a fort of boldness, which indicated the warmth of her conftitution. The harth tone of her voice, together with her refolute and wanton air, confirmed this circumstance. Such a kind of perfon, in the prefent fituation, was infinitely preferable to the graces, the majesty, and the numerous allurements of many other beauties of the Court. Befides, the excelled them all in a talent which is a substitute
It was to the Duke of Pecquigny, Gaptain Lieutenant of his Majefty's Guard, that this answer, as it is reported, was made.
for many charms, in the art of the toilet, which fhe practifed in the highest perfection, and in an exquifite tafte for drefs, which her rivals in vain attempted to imitate. In a word, nature had amply indemnified her, for what fhe had denied her in point of figure, by the qualities of the understanding and of the heart. She was amufing, lively, of an even temper, a firm friend, generous, compaffionate, and feeking to do fervice. Unfortunately, even in the height of her fituation, he was obliged to employ indirect means to gratify this benevolent difpofition, not being able to do any thing of herself, without the rifque of lofing her favour, the affections of the illuftrious perfons to whom the owed it, and especially the fupport of the Cardinal, who had only preferred her to the office of acting a part merely paffive.
• When the conditions were fettled, the Prime Minifter commiffioned the Duke de Richelieu to propofe the Countess of Mailly to the King This fubtle and alluring Courtier had infinuated himself into the good graces of his Majefty, and gained his confidence. The Cardinal did not doubt but that, in changing the object of his talents, he might be employed with as much fuccefs in a negotiation of gallantry, as in one of politics. The favourite in fact, availing himfelf of the familiarity in which Lewis XV. indulged him, artfully turned the converfation on the subject of the Queen, and upon the void, which the behaviour of her Majesty occafioned in his heart; he made him acknowledge the neceffity of replacing that paffion by another; he represented love to him as the comfort of all men, and particularly of great Princes, obliged to relax from the cares of empire. He thus determined the King to an interview with Madame de Mailly; but notwithstanding his youth, notwithstanding the ardour of his conftitution, and notwithstanding the time that had elapfed fince his rupture with the queen, the interview was ineffectual: timidity had frozen up his fenfes to fuch a degree, that the Countefs, having no hopes, complained of the little impreffion fhe had made upon him. She was with difficulty prevailed upon to a fecond interview: when fhe was defired to forget the Monarch, and think of nothing but the man. She was much encouraged by the young Prince's docility in returning to her; and, being convinced by this step, that the had nothing to do but to attack, in order to triumph, the fcrupled not to fubmit to the most abominable artifices of proftitution. Her mancu. vres were the more fuccefsful, as the King's paffions were more violent from reftraint. The Countefs, tranfported with her fuccefs, went out in the utmost disorder, and, prefenting herself to her inftigators, who were curious to know what had paffed, faid nothing more than, For goodness fake, do but fee what a fright this lewd fela low has made of me.
See The Loves of Zeokiniful, King of the Kofirans, a work tranflated from the Arab of the traveller Krinebboi, one of thofe obfcure and licentious books, which, however we must not place too much confidence in, and which we never adopt, but when the facts agree with the more authentic manufcript we have under our inspection, or with the accounts of cotemporary Courtiers,
The firft step being got over, the King felt no longer any uneafy constraint; he gave himself up without remorfe to this double adultery. The interviews, however, were fill carried on fecretly for fome time; but he foon fkook off this restraint, and made no longer a myflery of his conqueft. It became a topic of converfation among the Courtiers; the Queen herself was informed of it, and, inflead of trying the afcendant she had always had over the King, to recal him to the nuptial bed, did nothing but pour forth her forrows for his conduct at the foot of the altar. The Count de Mailly, who used to care very little for his wife before, thought proper to exprefs his diffatisfaction at her infidelity. The only anfwer he received was, to prohibit him from having any farther intercourfe with her. The Marquis de Nefle, the favourite's father, of one of the most illuftrious houses in the kingdom, thought proper alfo to cenfure her conduct. It was judged, that this was only a pretence to ask for money, of which he was much in want, on account of the diforder in his af fairs; and fome was given to him to keep him quiet.
The perfon who was most embarraffed how to a&, upon the first breaking out of the King's amours, was the Cardinal. In order to impose upon the nation, although he was the indirect encourager of the irregularities of his augutt pupil, yet he carried his hypocrify fo far as to venture to make remonftrances to him. I have left to you the government of my kingdom, answered his Majefty with acrimony, and I defire you would leave me to be master of myself. These words, however harthly they were fpoken, filled him with joy. His emiffaries, while they exculpated him, divulged the King's anfwer in all companies. It is not to be conceived how much the Parifians were fcandilized with it. The people in general, and especially the French, love to change their fituation, in hopes of bettering it, They had flattered themselves that a miftrefs would occafion fome revolution and perceiving that this mistress only confirmed the authority of the Prime Miniller, thofe perfons who had approved of the King's paffion, no longer confidered it in the fame light. It was reprefented to the Public, as an intercourfe of a horrid nature, which would not fail to draw down the vengeance of Heaven upon the kingdom. Satyrical verfes were written, and licentious fongs fung, in which the lover and his miflrefs were equally ill-treated.
It may be admitted as fome kind of excufe for the lady who acted this part, for which he was by no means intended, and which, undoubtedly, the had now affumed for the first time; that her conduct, which would have been infamous and abominable in another, was dictated by the feelings of her heart;-that he was always more attached to the perfon of the King, than to his crown;-that he had a real affection for Lewis XV.;-that the never afked any favour, ei ther for herself or for her relations ;-that he was of no kind of burthen to the State; that fhe retired from Court as poor as fhe had come into it; that, after the example of Madame de la Valliere, when he was feparated from her lover, fhe found none worthy to fucceed him, and devoted herself to God;-and, in a word, that the expiated with tears, and continual mortifications, to the time of her death, the crime of having defiled the nuptial bed.