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The Memoirs of Louis XIV

Louie-Armand, Prince De Conti
It cannot be denied that his whole appearance is extremely repulsive. He is a horribly ill-
made little man, and is always absent-minded, which gives him a distracted air, as if he
were really crazy. When it could be the least expected, too, he will fall over his own
walking-stick. The folks in the palace were so much accustomed to this in the late King's
time, that they used always to say, when they heard anything fall,
"It's nothing; only the Prince de Conti tumbling down."
He has sense, but he has been brought up like a scullion boy; he has strange whimsies, of
which he is quite aware himself, but which he cannot control. His wife is a charming
woman, and is much to be pitied for being in fear of her life from this madman, who
often threatens her with loaded pistols. Fortunately, she has plenty of courage and does
not fear him. Notwithstanding this, he is very fond of her; and this is the more surprising,
because his love for the sex is not very strong; and although he visits improper places
occasionally, it is only for the purpose of tormenting the poor wretches who are to be
found there. Before he was married he felt no, affection for any woman but his mother,
who also loved him very tenderly. She is now vexed at having no longer the same
ascendency over her son, and is jealous of her daughter-in-law because the Prince loves
her alone. This occasions frequent disturbances in the house. The mother has had a house:
built at some distance from her son. When they are good friends, she dismisses the
workmen; but when they quarrel, she doubles the number and hastens the work, so that
one may always tell, upon a mere inspection of the building, upon what terms the
Princesse de Conti and her son are living. The mother wished to have her grandson to
educate; her daughter-in-law opposed it because she preferred taking care of him herself;
and then ensued a dog-and-cat quarrel. The wife, who is cunning enough, governs her
husband entirely, and has gained over his favourites to be her creatures. She is the idol of
the-whole house.
In order to prevent the Prince de Conti from going to Hungary, the government of Poitou
has been bought for him, and a place in the Council of the Regency allotted to him; by
this means they have retained the wild beast.
Our young Princess says her husband has a rheum in his eyes.
To amuse her, he reads aloud Ovid in the original; and although she does not understand
one word of Latin, she is obliged to listen and to remain silent, even though any one
should come in; for if anybody interrupts him he is angry, and scolds all who are in the
apartment.
At the last masked ball (4th March, 1718) some one who had dressed himself like the
Prince de Conti, and wore a hump on his back, went and sat beside him. "Who are you,
mask?" asked the Prince.
 
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