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The Memoirs of Louis XIV
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Madame De Maintenon
The marriage of Louis XIV. with old Maintenon proves how impossible it is to escape
one's fate. The King said one day to the Duc de Crequi and to M. de La Rochefoucauld,
long before he knew Mistress Scarron, "I am convinced that astrology is false. I had my
nativity cast in Italy, and I was told that, after living to an advanced age, I should be in
love with an old ----- to the last moment of my existence. I do not think there is any great
likelihood of that." He laughed most heartily as he said this; and yet the thing has taken
The history of Theodora, in Procopius, bears a singular resemblance to that of Maintenon.
In the history of Sweden, too, there is a similar character in the person of Sigbritta, a
Dutch woman, who lived during the reign of Christian IL, King of Denmark, Sweden and
Norway, who bears so great a likeness to Maintenon that I was struck with it as soon as I
read it. I cannot imagine how they came to permit its publication. It is fortunate for the
Abbe Vertot, who is the author, that the King does not love reading, otherwise he would
certainly have been sent to the Bastille. Several persons thought that the Abbe had
invented it by way of a joke, but he swears by all that is good that he found it in the
annals of Sweden. The old woman cannot have read it either, for she is too much
occupied in reading the letters written to her from Paris, relating all that is going on there
and at the Court. Sometimes the packets have consisted of twenty or thirty sheets; she
kept them or showed them to the King, according as she liked or disliked the persons.
She was not deficient in wit, and could talk very well whenever she chose. She did not
like to be called La Marquise, but preferred the simpler and shorter title of Madame de
She did not scruple to display openly the hatred she had for me. For example, when the
Queen of England came to Marly, and went out on foot or in the carriage with the King,
on their return the Queen, the Dauphine, the Princess of England, and all the Princesses,
went into the King's room; I alone was excluded.
It was with great regret that I gave up my Maids of Honour. I had four, sometimes five of
them, with their governess and sub-governess; they amused me very much, for they were
all very gay. The old woman feared there might be some among them to whom the King
might take a fancy, as he had done to Ludre and Fontange. I only kept my Maids of
Honour a year after the death of Monsieur.---- The King was always fond of the
sex, and if the old woman had not watched him very narrowly he would have slipped
through her fingers in spite of all his devotion.
She hated the Dauphine because the latter would not let her treat her like a child, but
wished to keep a Court and live as became her rank. This the old woman could not and
would not endure. She loved to set all things in confusion, as she did afterwards with the
second Dauphine, in the hope of compelling the King to recognize and proclaim her as
Queen; but this the King never would do, notwithstanding all her artifices.--