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The Memoirs of Louis XIV

The First Dauphin
All that was good in the first Dauphin came from his preceptor; all that was bad from
himself. He never either loved or hated any one much, and yet he was very wicked. His
greatest pleasure was to do something to vex a person; and immediately afterwards, if he
could do something very pleasing to the same person, he would set about it with great
willingness. In every respect he was of the strangest temper possible: when one thought
he was good-humoured, he was angry; and when one supposed him to be ill-humoured,
he was in an amiable mood. No one could ever guess him rightly, and I do not believe
that his like ever was or ever will be born. It cannot be said that he had much wit; but still
less was he a fool. Nobody was ever more prompt to seize the ridiculous points of
anything in himself or in others; he told stories agreeably; he was a keen observer, and
dreaded nothing so much as to be one day King: not so much from affection for his
father, as from a dread of the trouble of reigning, for he was so extremely idle that he
neglected all things; and he would have preferred his ease to all the kingdoms and
empires of the earth. He could remain for a whole day, sitting on a sofa or in an arm-
chair, beating his cane against his shoes, without saying a word; he never gave an opinion
upon any subject; but when once, in the course of the year, he did speak, he could express
himself in terms sufficiently noble. Sometimes when he spoke one would say he was
stupidity itself; at another time he would deliver himself with astonishing sense. At one
time you would think he was the best Prince in the world; at another he would do all he
could to give people pain. Nobody seemed to be so ill with him but he would take the
trouble of making them laugh at the expense of those most dear to him. His maxim was,
never to seem to like one man in the Court better than another. He had a perfect horror of
favourites, and yet he sought favour himself as much as the commonest courtier could do.
He did not pride himself upon his politeness, and was enraged when any one penetrated
his intentions. As I had known him from his infancy I could sometimes guess his
meaning, which angered him excessively. He was not very fond of being treated
respectfully; he liked better not to be put to any trouble. He was rather partial than just, as
may be shown by the regulations he made as to the rank of my son's daughter. He never
liked or hated any Minister. He laughed often and heartily. He was a very obedient son,
and never opposed the King's will in any way, and was more submissive to Maintenon
than any other person. Those who say that he would have retired, if the King had declared
his marriage with that old woman, did not know him; had he not an old mistress of his
own, to whom he was believed to be privately married? What prevented Maintenon from
being declared Queen was the wise reasons which the Archbishop of Cambray, M. de
Fenelon, urged to the King, and for which she persecuted that worthy man to the day of
his death.
If the Dauphin had chosen, he might have enjoyed greater credit with his father. The
King had offered him permission to go to the Royal Treasury to bestow what favours he
chose upon the persons of his own Court; and at the Treasury orders were given that he
should have whatever he asked for. The Dauphin replied that it would give him so much
trouble. He would never know anything about State affairs lest he should be obliged to
attend the Privy Councils, and have no more time to hunt. Some persons thought he did
 
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