The Memoirs of Louis XIV HTML version

The Duchesse D'orleans, Wife Of The Regent
If, by shedding my own blood, I could have prevented my son's marriage, I would
willingly have done so; but since the thing was done, I have had no other wish than to
preserve harmony. Monsieur behaved to her with great attention during the first month,
but as soon as he suspected that she looked with too favourable an eye upon the Chevalier
du Roye,
[Bartholemi de La Rochefoucauld, at first Chevalier de Roye, but afterwards better
known by the title of Marquis de La Rochefoucauld. He was Captain of the Duchesse de
Berri's Body-Guards, and he died in 1721.]
he hated her as the Devil. To prevent an explosion, I was obliged daily to represent to
him that he would dishonour himself, as well as his son, by exposing her conduct, and
would infallibly bring upon himself the King's displeasure. As no person had been less
favourable to this marriage than I, he could not suspect but that I was moved, not from
any love for my daughter-in-law, but from the wish to avoid scandal and out of affection
to my son and the whole family. While all eclat was avoided, the public were at least in
doubt about the matter; by an opposite proceeding their suspicions would have been
Madame d'Orleans looks older than she is; for she paints beyond all measure, so that she
is often quite red. We frequently joke her on this subject, and she even laughs at it
herself. Her nose and cheeks are somewhat pendant, and her head shakes like an old
woman: this is in consequence of the small-pox. She is often ill, and always has a
fictitious malady in reserve. She has a true and a false spleen; whenever she complains,
my son and I frequently rally her about it. I believe that all the indispositions and
weaknesses she has proceed from her always lying in bed or on a sofa; she eats and
drinks reclining, through mere idleness; she has not worn stays since the King's death;
she never could bring herself to eat with the late King, her own father, still less would she
with me. It would then be necessary for her to sit upon a stool, and she likes better to loll
upon a sofa or sit in an arm- chair at a small table with her favourite, the Duchess of
Sforza. She admits her son, and sometimes Mademoiselle d'Orleans. She is so indolent
that she will not stir; she would like larks ready roasted to drop into her mouth; she eats
and walks slowly, but eats enormously. It is impossible to be more idle than she is: she
admits this herself; but she does not attempt to correct it: she goes to bed early that she
may lie the longer. She never reads herself, but when she has the spleen she makes her
women read her to sleep. Her complexion is good, but less so than her second daughter's.
She walks a little on one side, which Madame de Ratzenhausen calls walking by ear. She
does not think that there is her equal in the world for beauty, wit, and perfection of all
kinds. I always compare her to Narcissus, who died of self-admiration. She is so vain as
to think she has more sense than her husband, who has a great deal; while her notions are
not in the slightest degree elevated. She lives much in the femme-de-chambre style; and,
indeed, loves this society better than that of persons of birth. The ladies are often a week
together without seeing her; for without being summoned they cannot approach her. She