The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

The Duchesse De Berri
My son loves his eldest daughter better than all the rest of his children, because he has
had the care of her since she was seven years old. She was at that time seized with an
illness which the physicians did not know how to cure. My son resolved to treat her in his
own way. He succeeded in restoring her to health, and from that moment his love seemed
to increase with her years. She was very badly educated, having been always left with
femmes de chambre. She is not very capricious, but she is haughty and absolute in all her
[Her pride led her into all sorts of follies. She once went through Paris preceded by
trumpets and drama; and on another occasion she appeared at the theatre under a canopy.
She received the Venetian Ambassador sitting in a chair elevated upon a sort of a
platform. This haughtiness, however, did not prevent her from keeping very bad
company, and she would sometimes lay aside her singularities and break up her orgies to
pass some holy days at the Carmelites.]
From the age of eight years she has had entirely her own way, so that it is not surprising
she should be like a headstrong horse. If she had been well brought up, she would have
been a worthy character, for she has very good sense and a good natural disposition, and
is not at all like her mother, to whom, although she was very severely treated, she always
did her duty. During her mother's last illness, she watched her like a hired nurse. If
Madame de Berri had been surrounded by honest people, who thought more of her
honour than of their own interest, she would have been a very admirable person. She had
excellent feelings; but as that old woman (Maintenon) once said, "bad company spoils
good manners." To be pleasing she had only to speak, for she possessed natural
eloquence, and could express herself very well.
Her complexion is very florid, for which she often lets blood, but without effect; she uses
a great quantity of paint, I believe for the purpose of hiding the marks of the small-pox.
She cannot dance, and hates it; but she is well-grounded in music. Her voice is neither
strong nor agreeable, and yet she sings very correctly. She takes as much diversion as
possible; one day she hunts, another day she goes out in a carriage, on a third she will go
to a fair; at other times she frequents the rope-dancers, the plays, and the operas, and she
goes everywhere 'en echarpe', and without stays. I often rally her, and say that she fancies
she is fond of the chase, but in fact she only likes changing her place. She cares little
about the result of the chase, but she likes boar-hunting better than stag-hunting, because
the former furnishes her table with black puddings and boars' heads.
I do not reckon the Duchesse de Berri among my grandchildren. She is separated from
me, we live like strangers to each other, she does not disturb herself about me, nor I about
her. (7th January, 1716.)
Madame de Maintenon was so dreadfully afraid lest the King should take a fancy to the
Duchesse de Berri while the Dauphine was expected, that she did her all sorts of ill