The Memoirs of Louis XIV
When the King pleased he could be one of the most agreeable and amiable men in the
world; but it was first necessary that he should be intimately acquainted with persons. He
used to joke in a very comical and amusing manner.
The King, though by no means perfect, possessed some great and many fine qualities;
and by no means deserved to be defamed and despised by his subjects after his death.
While he lived he was flattered, even to idolatry.
He was so much tormented on my account that I could not have wondered if he had hated
me most cordially. However, he did not; but, on the contrary, he discovered that all which
was said against me sprang from malice and jealousy.
If he had not been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of two of the worst women in
the world Montespan, and that old Maintenon, who was even worse than the other, he
would have been one of the best kings that ever lived; for all the evil that he ever did
proceeded from those two women, and not from himself.
Although I approved of many things he did, I could not agree with him when he
maintained that it was vulgar to love one's relations. Montespan had instilled this into
him, in order that she might get rid of all his legitimate blood connections, and might
suffer none about him but her bastards; she had even carried matters so far as to seek to
confine the royal favour to her offspring or her creatures.
Our King loved the chase passionately; particularly hawking and stag hunting.
One day all the world came to Marly to offer their compliments of condolence; Louis
XIV., to get rid of the ceremony, ordered that no harangues should be made, but that all
the Court should enter without distinction and together at one door, and go out by the
other. Among them came the Bishop of Gap, in a sort of dancing step, weeping large, hot
tears, and smiling at the same moment, which gave to his face the most grotesque
appearance imaginable. Madame, the Dauphine, and I, were the first who could not
restrain ourselves; then the Dauphin and the Duc de Berri, and at last the King, and
everybody who was in the chamber burst out into loud laughter.
The King, it must be allowed, gave occasion to great scandal on account of his
mistresses; but then he very sincerely repented of these offences.
He had good natural wit, but was extremely ignorant; and was so much ashamed of it that
it became the fashion for his courtiers to turn learned men into ridicule. Louis XIV. could
not endure to hear politics talked; he was what they call in this country, 'franc du collier'.