The Memoirs of Louis XIV
Louis III., Duc De Bourbon
It is said that the Duke has solid parts; he does everything with a certain nobility; he has a
good person, but the loss of that eye, which the Duc de Berri struck out, disfigures him
much. He is certainly very politic, and this quality he has from his mother. He is polite
and well- bred; his mind is not very comprehensive, and he has been badly instructed.
They say he is unfit for business for three reasons: first, on account of his ignorance;
secondly, for his want of application; and, thirdly, for his impatience. I can see that in
examining him narrowly one would find many defects in him; but he has also many
praiseworthy qualities, and he possesses many friends. He has a greatness and nobility of
soul, and a good deportment.
The Prince is in love with Madame de Polignac; but she is fond of the Duke, who cannot
yet forget Madame de Nesle, although she has dismissed him to make room for that great
calf, the Prince of Soubise. The latter person is reported to have said, "Why does the
Duke complain? Have I not consented to share Madame de Nesle's favours with him
whenever he chooses?"
Such is the delicacy which prevails here in affairs of love.
The Duke is very passionate. When Madame de Nesle dismissed him he almost died of
vexation; he looked as if he was about to give up the ghost, and for six months he did not
know what to do.
The Marquis de Villequier, the Duc d'Aumont's son, one day visited the Marquise de
Nesle. She took it into her head to ask him if he was very fond of his wife. Villequier
replied, "I am not in love with her; I see her very little; our humours differ greatly. She is
serious, and for my part I like pleasure and gaiety. I feel for her a friendship founded on
esteem, for she is one of the most virtuous women in France."
Madame de Nesle, of whom no man could say so much, took this for an insult, and
complained of it to the Duke, who promised to avenge her. Some days afterwards he
invited young Villequier to dine with him at the Marquis de Nesle's; there were, besides
Madame de Nesle, the Marquis de Gevres, Madame de Coligny, and others. During
dinner the Duke began thus:
"A great many men fancy they are sure of the fidelity of their wives, but it is a mistake. I
thought to protect myself from this common fate by marrying a monster, but it served me
nought; for a villain named Du Challar, who was more ugly than I am, played me false.
As to the Marquis de Gevres, as he will never marry * * * , he will be exempt; but you,
Monsieur de Nesle, you are so and so." Nesle, who did not believe it, although it was
very true, only laughed. Then addressing himself to Villequier, he said, "And you,
Villequier, don't you think you are so?" He was silent. The Duke continued, "Yes, you
are befooled by the Chevalier de Pesay."