The Memoirs of Louis XIV by Elizabeth-Charlotte - HTML preview

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The Abbe Dubois

My son had a sub-governor, and he it was who appointed the Abbe, a very learned person, to be his tutor. The sub-governor's intention was to have dismissed the Abbe as soon as he should have taught my son sufficiently, and, excepting during the time occupied by the lessons, he never suffered him to remain with his pupil. But this good gentleman could not accomplish his design; for being seized with a violent colic, he died, unhappily for me, in a few hours. The Abbe then proposed himself to supply his place. There was no other preceptor near at hand, so the Abbe remained with my son, and assumed so adroitly the language of an honest man that I took him for one until my son's marriage; then it was that I discovered all his knavery. I had a strong regard for him, because I thought he was tenderly attached to my son, and only desired to promote his advantage; but when I found that he was a treacherous person, who thought only of his own interest, and that, instead of carefully trying to preserve my son's honour, he plunged him into ruin by permitting him to give himself up to debauchery without seeming to perceive it, then my esteem for this artful priest was changed into disgust. I know, from my son himself, that the Abbe, having one day met him in the street, just as he was about to enter a house of ill-fame, did nothing but laugh at him, instead of taking him by the arm and leading him home again. By this culpable indulgence, and by the part he took in my son's marriage, he has proved that there is neither faith nor honesty in him. I know that I do him no wrong in suspecting him to have contributed to my son's marriage; what I say I have from my son himself, and from people who were living with that old Maintenon at the time, when the Abbe used to go nightly for the purpose of arranging that intrigue with her, the object of which was to sell and betray his master. He deceives himself if he fancies that I do not know all this. At first he had declared in my favour, but after the old woman had sent for him two or three times he suddenly changed his conduct. It was not, however, on this that the King afterwards took a dislike to him, but for a nefarious scheme in which he was engaged with the Pere La Chaise. Monsieur was as much vexed as I. The King and the old woman threatened to dismiss all his favourites, which made him consent to everything; he repented afterwards, but it was then too late.

I would to God that the Abbe Dubois had as much religion as he has talent! but he believes in nothing--he is treacherous and wicked--his falsehood may be seen in his very eyes. He has the look of a fox; and his device is an animal of this sort, creeping out of his hole and watching a fowl. He is unquestionably a good scholar, talks well, and has instructed my son well; but I wish he had ceased to visit his pupil after his tuition was terminated. I should not then have to regret this unfortunate marriage, to which I can never reconcile myself. Excepting the Abbe Dubois there is no priest in my son's favour. He has a sort of indistinctness in his speech, which makes it sometimes necessary for him to repeat his words; and this often annoys me.

If there is anything which detracts from the Abbe's good sense it is his extreme pride; it is a weak side upon which he may always be successfully attacked. I wish my son had as little confidence in him as I have; but what astonishes me most is that, knowing him as he does, better than I do, he will still trust him. My son is like the rest of his family; he cannot get rid of persons to whom he is accustomed, and as the Abbe has been his tutor, he has acquired a habit of suffering him to say anything he chooses. By his amusing wit, too, he always contrives to restore himself to my son's good graces, even when the latter has been displeased with him.

If the Abbe had been choked with his first lie he had been dead long ago. Lying is an art in which he excels, and the more eminently where his own interest is concerned; if I were to enumerate all the lies I have known him to utter I should have a long list to write. He it was who suggested to the King all that was necessary to be said to him respecting my son's marriage, and for this purpose he had secret interviews with Madame de Maintenon. He affects to think we are upon good terms, and whatever I say to him, however disagreeable, he takes it all with a smile.

My son has most amply recompensed the Abbe Dubois; he has given him the place of Secretary of the King's Cabinet, which M. Calieres formerly held, and which is worth 22,000 livres; he has also given him a seat in the Council of Regency for the Foreign Affairs.

 My son assures me that it is not his intention to make the Abbe Dubois a Cardinal, and that the Abbe himself does not think about it (17th August, 1717).

On the 6th of March, this disagreeable priest came to me and said, "Monseigneur has just nominated me Archbishop of Cambrai." I replied, "I congratulate you upon it; but has this taken place today? I heard of it a week ago; and, since you were seen to take the oaths on your appointment, no one has doubted it." It is said that the Duc de Mazarin said, on the Abbe's first Mass, "The Abbe Dubois is gone to his first communion;" meaning that he had never before taken the communion in all his life. I embarrassed my son by remarking to him that he had changed his opinion since he told me the Abbe should never become Bishop or Archbishop, and that he did not think of being Cardinal. My son blushed and answered, "It is very true; but I had good reason for changing my intention." "Heaven grant it may be so," I said, "for it must be by God's mercy, and not from the exercise of your own reason."

The Archbishop of Cambrai is the declared enemy of our Abbe Saint-Albin. The word arch is applicable to all his qualities; he is an arch-cheat, an arch-hypocrite, an archflatterer, and, above all, an arch-knave.

It is reported that a servant of the Archbishop of Rheims said to a servant of the Archbishop of Cambrai, "Although my master is not a Cardinal, he is still a greater lord than yours, for he consecrates the Kings."

 "Yes," replied the Abbe Dubois' servant, "but my master consecrates the real God, who is still greater than all Kings."