The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

The Duchesse Louise-Francisque, Consort Of Louis III.,
Duc De Bourbon
I knew a German gentleman who has now been dead a long time (1718), who has sworn
to me positively that the Duchess is not the daughter of the King, but of Marechal de
Noailles. He noted the time at which he saw the Marshal go into Montespan's apartment,
and it was precisely nine months from that time that the Duchess came into the world.
This German, whose name was Bettendorf, was a brigadier in the Body Guard; and he
was on guard at Montespan's when the captain of the first company paid this visit to the
King's mistress.
The Duchess is not prettier than her daughters, but she has more grace; her manners are
more fascinating and agreeable; her wit shines in her eyes, but there is some malignity in
them also. I always say she is like a very pretty cat, which, while you play with it, lets
you feel it has claws. No person has a better carriage of the head. It is impossible to dance
better than the Duchess and her daughters can; but the mother dances the best. I do not
know how it is, but even her lameness is becoming to her. The Duchess has the talent of
saying things in so pleasant a manner that one cannot help laughing. She is very amusing
and uncommonly good company; her notions are so very comical. When she wishes to
make herself agreeable to any one she is very insinuating, and can take all shapes; if she
were not also treacherous, one might say truly that nobody is more amiable than the
Duchess; she understands so well how to accommodate herself to people's peculiar habits
that one would believe she takes a real interest in them; but there is nothing certain about
her. Although her sense is good, her heart is not. Notwithstanding her ambition, she
seems at first as if she thought only of amusing and diverting herself and others; and she
can feign so skilfully that one would think she had been very agreeably entertained in the
society of persons, whom immediately upon her return home she will ridicule in all
possible ways.
La Mailly complained to her aunt, old Maintenon, that her husband was in love with the
Duchess; but this husband, having afterwards been captivated by an actress named
Bancour, gave up to her all the Duchess's letters, for which he was an impertinent rascal.
The Duchess wrote a song upon Mailly, in which she reproached her, notwithstanding her
airs of prudery, with an infidelity with Villeroi, a sergeant of the Guard.
In the Duchess's house malice passes for wit, and therefore they are under no restraint.
The three sisters--the Duchess, the Princesse de Conti, and Madame d'Orleans--behave to
each other as if they were not sisters.
The Princess is a very virtuous person, and is much displeased at her daughter-in-law's
manner of life, for Lasso is with her by day and by night; at the play, at the Opera, in
visits, everywhere Lasso is seen with her.