The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

Madame De La Valliere
When one of Madame de Montespan's children died, the King was deeply affected; but
he was not so at the death of the poor Comte de Vermandois (the son of La Valliere). He
could not bear him, because Montespan and that old Maintenon had made him believe the
youth was not his but the Duc de Lauzun's child. It had been well if all the King's reputed
children had been as surely his as this was. Madame de La Valliere was no light mistress,
as her unwavering penitence sufficiently proved. She was an amiable, gentle, kind and
tender woman. Ambition formed no part of her love for the King; she had a real passion
for him, and never loved any other person. It was at Montespan's instigation that the King
behaved so ill to her. The poor creature's heart was broken, but she imagined that she
could not make a sacrifice more agreeable to God than that which had been the cause of
her errors; and thought that her repentance ought to proceed from the same source as her
crime. She therefore remained, by way of self-mortification, with Montespan, who,
having a great portion of wit, did not scruple to ridicule her publicly, behaved extremely
ill to her, and obliged the King to do the same.
He used to pass through La Valliere's chamber to go to Montespan's; and one day, at the
instigation of the latter, he threw a little spaniel, which he had called Malice, at the
Duchesse de La Valliere, saying: "There, Madam, is your companion; that's all."
This was the more cruel, as he was then going direct to Montespan's chamber. And yet La
Valliere bore everything patiently; she was as virtuous as Montespan was vicious. Her
connection with the King might be pardoned, when it was remembered that everybody
had not only advised her to it, but had even assisted to bring it about. The King was
young, handsome and gallant; she was, besides, very young; she was naturally modest,
and had a very good heart. She was very much grieved when she was made a Duchess,
and her children legitimated; before that she thought no one knew she had had children.
There was an inexpressible charm in her countenance, her figure was elegant, her eyes
were always in my opinion much finer than Montespan's, and her whole deportment was
unassuming. She was slightly lame, but not so much as to impair her appearance.
When I first arrived in France she had not retired to the convent, but was still in the
Court. We became and continued very intimate until she took the veil. I was deeply
affected when this charming person took that resolution; and, at the moment when the
funeral pall was thrown over her, I shed so many tears that I could see no more. She
visited me after the ceremony, and told me that I should rather congratulate than weep for
her, for that from that moment her happiness was to begin: she added that she should
never forget the kindness and friendship I had displayed towards her, and which was so
much more than she deserved. A short time afterwards I went to see her. I was curious to
know why she had remained so long in the character of an attendant to Montespan. She
told me that God had touched her heart, and made her sensible of her crimes; that she felt
she ought to perform a penitence, and suffer that which would be most painful to her,
which was to love the King, and to be despised by him; that for the three years after the
King had ceased to love her she had suffered the torments of the damned, and that she