The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

The Illegitimate Children Of The Regent, Duc D'orleans
My son has three illegitimate children, two boys and a girl; but only one of them is
legitimated, that is, his son by Mademoiselle de Seri, a lady of noble family, and who was
my Maid of Honour. The younger Margrave of Anspach was also in love with her. This
son is called the Chevalier d'Orleans. The other, who is now (1716) about eighteen years
old, is an Abbe; he is the son of La Florence, a dancer at the Opera House. The daughter
is by Desmarets, the actress. My son says that the Chevalier d'Orleans is more
unquestionably his than any of the others; but, to tell the truth, I think the Abbe has a
stronger family likeness to my son than the Chevalier, who is like none of them. I do not
know where my son found him; he is a good sort of person, but he has neither elegance
nor beauty. It is a great pity that the Abbe is illegitimate: he is well made; his features are
not bad; he has very good talents, and has studied much.--[Duclos says that this 'eleve' of
the Jesuits was, nevertheless, the most zealous ignoramus that ever their school
produced.]--He is a good deal like the portraits of the late Monsieur in his youth, only
that he is bigger. When he stands near Mademoiselle de Valois it is easy to see that they
belong to the same father. My son purchased for the Chevalier d'Orleans the office of
General of the Galleys from the Marechal de Tasse. He intends to make him a Knight of
Malta, so that he may live unmarried, for my son does not wish to have the illegitimate
branches of his family extended. The Chevalier does not want wit; but he is a little
satirical, a habit which he takes from his mother.
My son will not recognize the Abbe Saint-Albin, on account of the irregular life which
his mother, La Florence, has led. He fears being laughed at for acknowledging children
so different. The Abbe Dubois was a chief cause, too, why my son would not
acknowledge this son. It was because the Abbe, aspiring to the Cardinal's hat, was jealous
of every one who might be a competitor with him. I love this Abbe Saint-Albin, in the
first place, because he is attached to me, and, in the second, because he is really very
clever; he has wit and sense, with none of the mummery of priests. My son does not
esteem him half so much as he deserves, for he is one of the best persons in the world; he
is pious and virtuous, learned in every point, and not vain. It is in vain for my son to deny
him; any one may see of what race he comes, and I am sorry that he is not legitimated.
My son is much more fond of Seri's Son.
The poor Abbe de Saint-Albin is grieved to death at not being acknowledged; while
Fortune smiles upon his elder brother, he is forgotten, despised, and has no rank; he seeks
only to be legitimated. I console him as well as I can; but why should I tease my son
about the business?
[The Abbe de Saint-Albin was appointed Bishop of Laon, and, after Dubois' death,
Archbishop of Cambrai. When he wished to become a member of the Parliament he
could not give the names either of his father or mother; he had been baptized in the name
of Cauche, the Regent's valet de chambre and purveyor.]