The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

Philippe II., Duc D' Orleans, Regent Of France
From the age of fourteen to that of fifteen years, my son was not ugly; but after that time
he became very much sun-burnt in Italy and Spain. Now, however, he is too ruddy; he is
fat, but not tall, and yet he does not seem disagreeable to me. The weakness of his eyes
causes him sometimes to squint. When he dances or is on horseback he looks very well,
but he walks horridly ill. In his childhood he was so delicate that he could not even kneel
without falling, through weakness; by degrees, however, his strength improved. He loads
his stomach too much at table; he has a notion that it is good to make only one meal;
instead of dinner, he takes only one cup of chocolate, so that by supper he is extremely
hungry and thirsty. In answer to whatever objections are made to this regimen, he says he
cannot do business after eating. When he gets tipsy, it is not with strong potations, but
with Champagne or Tokay. He is not very fond of the chase. The weakness of his sight
arose from an accident which befell him at the age of four years, and which was
something like an apoplexy. He sees well enough near, and can read the smallest writing;
but at the distance of half the room he cannot distinguish persons without a glass. He had
an application of a powder to that eye which is worst, and, although it had caused
intolerable pain to every other person who had used it, it seemed to have no effect upon
him, for he laughed and chatted as usual. He found some benefit from this; but W.
Gendron was too severe for him. That physician forbade the petits-soupers and the
amusements which usually followed them; this was not agreeable to my son, and those
who used to frequent them to their own advantage; they therefore persuaded him to adopt
some other remedies which almost deprived him of sight. For the last forty years (1719),
that is to say since the accident happened, the month of October has never elapsed
without his health and eyesight being affected towards the 21st in some way or other.
He was only seventeen years old when he was married. If he had not been threatened
with imprisonment in the old castle of Villers-Cotterets, and if hopes had not been given
him of seeing the Duchesse de Bourbon as he wished, they could not have induced him to
form this accursed marriage. It is my son's unlucky destiny to have for a wife a woman
who is desirous of ruling everything with her brothers. It is commonly said, that where
one sins there one suffers; and thus it has happened to my son with respect to his wife and
his brothers-in-law. If he had not inflicted upon me the deepest vexation by uniting
himself with this low race, he might now speak to them boldly. I never quarrelled with
my son; but he was angry with me about this marriage, which he had contracted against
my inclination.
As I sincerely love him, I have forgotten it; and I do not believe that we shall ever quarrel
in future. When I have anything to say about his conduct, I say it openly, and there is an
end of it. He behaves to me very respectfully. I did all in my power to prevent his
marriage; but since it did take place, and with his consent, though without mine, I wish
now only for his tranquillity. His wife fancies that she has done him an honour in
marrying him, because he is only the son of the brother of a king, while she is the
daughter of a king; but she will not perceive that she is also the daughter of a -----. He
was obliged to put down all his feelings of nobility; and if I had a hundred crowns for as