By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Memoirs of the Marchioness of Pompadour (vol. 1 of 2)
Author: Pompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of the Marchioness of Pompadour (vol. 1 of 2)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images available at The Internet Archive)


                                OF THE

                       Marchioness of Pompadour.

                          WRITTEN BY HERSELF.

                         Wherein are Displayed

     The Motives of the Wars, Treaties of Peace, Embassies, and
     Negotiations, in the several Courts of Europe:

     The Cabals and Intrigues of Courtiers; the Characters of Generals,
     and Ministers of State, with the Causes of their Rise and Fall;
     and, in general, the most remarkable Occurrences at the Court of
     France, during the last twenty Years of the Reign of Lewis XV.

                      Translated from the French.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.


              Printed for P. VAILLANT, in the Strand; and
                    W. JOHNSTON, in Ludgate-Street.




The following work must be acknowledged highly interesting to these
times; and to posterity will be still more so. These are not the memoirs
of a mere woman of pleasure, who has spent her life in a voluptuous
court, but the history of a reign remarkable for revolutions, wars,
intrigues, alliances, negotiations; the very blunders of which are not
beneath the regard of politicians, as having greatly contributed to give
a new turn to the affairs of Europe.

The Lady who drew the picture was known to be an admirable colourist.

They who were personally acquainted with Mademoiselle Poisson, before
and since her marriage with M. le Normand, know her to have been
possessed of a great deal of that wit, which, with proper culture,
improves into genius.

The King called her to court at a tempestuous season of life, when the
passions reign uncontrouled, and by corrupting the heart, enlarge the

They who are near the persons of Kings, for the most part, surpass the
common run of mankind, both in natural and acquired talents; for
ambition is ever attended with a sort of capacity to compass its ends;
and all courtiers are ambitious.

No sooner does the Sovereign take a mistress, than the courtiers flock
about her. Their first concern is to give her her cue; for as they
intend to avail themselves of her interest with the King, she must be
made acquainted with a multitude of things: she may be said to receive
her intelligence from the first hand, and to draw her knowledge at the
fountain head.

Lewis XV. intrusted the Marchioness de Pompadour with the greatest
concerns of the nation; so that if she had been without those abilities
which distinguished her at Paris, she must still have improved in the
school of Versailles.

Her talents did not clear her in the public eye; never was a favourite
more outrageously pelted with pamphlets, or exposed to more clamorous
invectives. Of this her Memoirs are a full demonstration; her enemies
charged her with many very odious vices, without so much as allowing her
one good quality. The grand subject of murmur was the bad state of the
finances, which they attributed to her amours with the King.

They who brand the Marchioness with having run Lewis XV. into vast
expences, seem to have forgot those which his predecessor’s mistresses
had brought on the state.

Madame de la Valiere, even before she was declared mistress to Lewis
XIV. induced him to give entertainments, which cost the nation more than
ever Madame de Pompadour’s fortune amounted to.

Madame de Montespan put the same Prince to very enormous expences; she
appeared always with the pomp and parade of a Queen, even to the having
guards to attend her.

Scarron’s widow carried her pride and ostentation still further: she
drew the King in to marry her, and this mistress came to be queen, an
elevation which will be an eternal blot on the Prince’s memory.

This clandestine commerce gave rise to an infamous practice at court,
with which Madame de Pompadour cannot be charged. All these concubines
having children, to gratify their vanity, they must be legitimated; and,
afterwards, they found means to marry these sons, or daughters, of
prostitution, to the branches of the royal blood; a flagrant debasement
of the house which were in kin to the crown: for though a Sovereign can
legitimate a bastard, to efface the stain of bastardy is beyond his
power. The consequence was, that the descendants of that clandestine
issue aspired to the throne; and, through the King’s scandalous amours,
that lustre which is due only to virtue, fell to the portion of vice.

It was given out in France, and over all Europe, that Madame de
Pompadour was immensely rich: but nothing of this appeared at her death,
except her magnificent moveables, and these were rather the
consequences of her rank at court, than the effects of her vanity. This
splendor his Majesty partook of, as visiting her every day.

The public is generally an unfair judge of those who hold a considerable
station at court, deciding from vague reports, which are often the
forgeries of ill-grounded prejudice. Madame de Pompadour has been
charged with insatiable avarice. Had this been the case, she might have
indulged herself at will: she was at the spring-head of opulence; the
King never refused her any thing; so that she might have amassed any
money; which she did not. There are now existing, in France, fifty
wretches of financiers, each of a fortune far exceeding her’s.

It was also said, that the best thing which could happen to France, was
to be rid of this rapacious favourite. Well; she is no more; and what is
France the better for it? Has her death been followed by one of those
sudden revolutions in the government, which usher in a better form of
administration? Have they who looked on this Lady as an unsurmountable
obstacle to France’s greatness, proposed any better means for raising it
from its present low state? Is there more order in the government? are
the finances improved? is there more method and oeconomy? No, affairs
are still in the same bad ways the lethargy continues as profound as
ever. The ministry, which before Madame de Pompadour’s death was fast
asleep, is not yet awake. Every thing remains in _statu quo_. Some
European governments have no regular motion; they advance either too
fast, or too slow; their steps are either precipitate, or sluggish.

In this favourite’s time, there was too much shifting and changing in
the ministry; now she is gone, there is none at all, &c. &c.

I am very far from intending a panegyric on Madame de Pompadour. Faults
she had, which posterity will never forgive. All the calamities of
France were imputed to her, and she should have resigned in compliance
to the public: a nation is to be respected even in its prejudices. With
any tolerable share of patriotism, Madame de Pompadour would have
quitted the court, and thus approved herself deserving of the favour for
which she was execrated; but her soul was not capable of such an act of
magnanimity: she knew nothing of that philosophy which, inspiring a
contempt of external grandeur, endears the subject to the Prince, and
exalts him above the throne.

There is great appearance that this Lady intended to revise both her
Memoirs and her will, and that death prevented her: she used to write,
by starts, detached essays, without any coherence; and these on separate
bits of paper. These were very numerous and diffuse, as generally are
the materials intended to form a book, if she really had any such

We were obliged to throw by on all sides, and clear our way through an
ocean of writings, a long and tiresome business.

It is far from being improbable, that Madame de Pompadour got some
statesman, well versed in such matters, to assist her in compiling this
book: however that be, we give it as it stands in her original

[Illustration: text decoration]



Marchioness of Pompadour.

The following narrative is not confined to the particular history of my
life. My design is more extensive: I shall endeavour to give a true
representation of the court of France under the reign of Lewis XV. The
private memoirs of a King’s mistress are in themselves of small import;
but to know the character of the Prince who raises her to favour; to be
let into the intrigues of his reign, the genius of the courtiers, the
practices of the ministers, the views of the great, the projects of the
ambitious; in a word, into the secret springs of politics, is not a
matter of indifference.

It is very seldom that the public judges rightly of what passes in the
cabinet: they hear that the King orders armies to take the field; that
he wins or loses battles; and on these occurrences they argue according
to their particular prejudices.

History does not come nearer the mark; the generality of annalists being
only the echoes of the public mistakes.

These papers I do not intend to publish in my life-time; but should they
appear after my death, posterity will see in them a faithful draught of
the several parts of the administration, which were acted, in some
measure, under my eye. Had I never lived at Versailles, the events of
our times might have been an inexplicable riddle to posterity; so
complicated are the incidents, and in many particulars so
contradictory, that, without a key, there is no decyphering them.

Ministers and other place-men are not always acquainted with the means,
which they themselves make use of for attaining certain ends. A
plenipotentiary very well knows that he signs a treaty of peace, but he
is ignorant of the King’s motives for putting an end to the war.

Every politician strikes out a system in his own sagacious brain; the
speculatists have often fathered on France what she never dreamed of;
and many refined schemes have been attributed to her ministers, which
never made part of their plan.

It is not long since a minister of a certain court said to me at
Versailles, That the two last German wars, which cost France so much
blood, and three hundred millions of livres, was the greatest stroke of
policy which the age afforded; as this court had thereby insensibly, and
unknown to the rest of Europe, reduced the power of the Queen of
Hungary: for, added he, if, on the demise of Charles VI. this crown had
openly bent all its forces against the house of Austria, a general
alliance would have opposed it; whereas it has weakened that house by a
series of little battles and repeated losses, &c. &c.

The inserting such an anecdote in the annals of our age would be
sufficient to disfigure the whole history. The truth is, that they who
were at the head of the French affairs, during these two wars, had no
manner of genius.

All details not relative to the state I shall carefully omit, as rather
writing the age of Lewis XV. than the history of my private life. The
transactions of a King’s favourite concern only the reign of that
Prince; but truth is of perpetual concern.

I hope the public does not expect from me a circumstantial journal of
Lewis XV’s gallantries: the King had many transitory amours during my
residence at Versailles; but none of his mistresses were admitted into
the public affairs. The reign of the far greater part began and ended in
the Prince’s bed. These foibles, so closely connected with human nature,
belong rather to a King’s private life, than to the public history of a
Monarch: I may sometimes mention them, but it will only be by the way. I
shall likewise be silent in regard to my family. The particular favour
with which I have been honoured by Lewis XV. has placed my origin in
broad day-light. A Monarch in raising a woman to the summit of grandeur,
of course lays open the blemishes of her birth. The annals of the
universe have been overlooked, to make a singular case of what has been
almost a general practice in the world.

The Roman Emperors often raised so favour and eminence women of more
obscure birth than mine: but, without going so far backward, the history
of our own Kings abounds with such instances. Though the widow of
Scarron the poet rose a step higher than I, she was not born to such
exaltation. It is true her father was a gentleman; but all women, not
born Princesses, are at a like distance from the throne.

A multitude of injurious reports have been propagated concerning my
parents. A wretched anonymous writer has gone even farther, by
publishing a scandalous book with the title of the history of my life.
The Count D’Affry wrote to me from Holland, that this production was of
the growth of Great-Britain. The English seem to make it their
particular business to throw dirt at persons of distinguished rank at
the court of France: that government is said to claim such a privilege,
in order to keep up the hatred between the two nations.

Though my birth had nothing great in it, my education was not neglected.
I was taught dancing, music, and the rules of elocution, by excellent
masters; and those little talents have proved of the highest use to me.
I also read a great deal, and a favourite writer of mine was one Madame
de Villedieu. Her picture of the Roman empire entertained me
exceedingly. I even felt a very lively joy in observing that the
greatest revolutions in the world have been owing to love.

After bestowing on me all the accomplishments which advantageously
distinguish a young person of my sex, I was married to one whom I did
not love; and a misfortune still greater was, that he loved me. This I
call a misfortune, and indeed I know not a greater on earth; for a woman
not beloved by a man, whom she likewise has married without any
affection, at least comforts herself in his indifference.

During the first years of my marriage, the King’s gallantries were much
talked of at Paris: his fleeting amours opened a field for all women,
who had beauty enough to put in for his heart.

The post of mistress to Lewis XV. was often vacant. At Versailles all
the passions had an appearance of debauchery. In that airy region love
was soon exhausted, as consisting wholly in fruition. Nothing of
delicacy was to be seen at court; the whole scene of sensibility was in
the Prince’s bed. This Monarch often laid down with a heart full of
love, and the next morning rose with as much indifference.

This account made me shudder; for I own I had then formed a design of
winning the heart of that Prince. I was afraid that he was so used to
change, as to be past all constancy.

I even, then, blushed at the thought of giving myself up to an
inclination of no farther consequence than a momentary gratification of
the senses; but was fixed on my design.

I had often seen the King at Versailles, without being perceived by him;
our looks had never met; my eyes had a great deal to say, but had no
opportunity of explaining my desires. At length I had an interview with
the Monarch, and, for the first time, talked with him in private. There
is no expressing what passed in me at this first conversation; fear,
hope, and admiration, successively agitated my soul. The King soon
dispelled my confusion; for Lewis XV. is certainly the most affable
Prince in his court, if not in the whole world. In private discourse his
rank lays no restraint, and all ideas of the throne are suspended; an
air of candour and goodness diffuses itself through every part of his
behaviour; in short, he can forget that he is a King, to be the more a

Our conversation was to me all charming: I pleased and was pleased. The
King has since owned to me, that he loved me from that first interview.
It was there agreed that we should see one another privately at
Versailles: he was very much for my immediately coming to an apartment
in the palace: he even insisted on it; but I begged he would give me
leave to remain still incognito for some time; and the King, being the
most polite man in France, yielded to my request. On my return to Paris,
a thousand fresh emotions rose in my breast. A strange thing is the
human heart! we feel the effects of those passions of which we know not
the cause. I am still at a loss whether I loved the King from this first
meeting: that it gave me infinite pleasure, I know; but pleasure is not
always a consequence of love. We are susceptible of a multitude of
other passions, which may produce the like effect.

I experienced a thousand delights in our secret intercourse: little do I
wonder that Madame de la Valiere, in the infancy of her amours with
Lewis XIV. was so transported with the sole enjoyment of that Monarch’s
affection: but at length, the King requiring that I should live at
Versailles, I complied with his desire.

Now was my first appearance at court. Very faint and imperfect are the
descriptions which books give of this grand theatre. I thought myself
amidst another species of mortals: I observed that their manners and
usages are not the same; and that in regard to dress, deportment, and
language, the inhabitants of Versailles are entirely different from
those of Paris. Every courtier, besides his personal character, frames
to himself another, under which he acts his several parts. In town,
virtue and vice are streightened; here both range at large. The
passions are the stronger, as they happen to be at the source of the
means of gratifying them. Private interest, from whence they derive all
their activity, is there in its centre. The Prince’s favour gives life
and motion to the courtier’s soul: without a beam from the throne, it is
all a horrid gloom.

To appear with dignity on this theatre, where I was an utter stranger, I
saw that it behoved me to make it my first care to examine into the
temper of those actors who played the capital parts.

Of his Majesty I knew nothing, but by common report; and that, when it
relates to a reigning Prince, is generally wrong; either flattery
attributing too many virtues to him, or malevolence charging him with
too many vices.

Lewis XV. is endowed with great natural parts, a surprising quickness of
apprehension, and solidity of judgment. He, at once, discerns the
springs which give motion to the most complicated affairs of politics:
he knows all the weaknesses of the general system, and the faults of
each particular administration. This Prince has a noble and exalted
soul: the blood of the legislator, the hero, and the warrior, runs in
his veins; but a narrow education has stifled the effect of these
advantages. Cardinal Fleury, having not one great principle in himself,
trained this Prince to nothing but trifles: yet this unequal education
did not extinguish in him the most amiable qualities which can adorn a
Sovereign. It is impossible to exceed the goodness of Lewis XV’s heart:
he is humane, mild, affable, compassionate, just, delighting in good, a
declared enemy to every thing which does not bear the stamp of honour
and probity, &c. &c.

Singular likewise are the virtues of the Queen: she has laid all
domestic hardships at the foot of the cross; so far from lamenting a
fate, which would have embittered the whole life of another Princess,
she considers it as a particular favour of Heaven, from a persuasion
that Providence is pleased to try her firmness in this life, in order to
confer the greater reward on her in the next. None of those fretful
words which speak a rankled heart ever came from her: she dwells with
pleasure on the King’s eminent qualities, and draws a veil over his
weaknesses: she never speaks of him but with a sensible respect and
veneration: it is impossible for any lady to carry Christian perfection
to a higher degree, and to concenter so many qualities in a rank, where
the least defects efface the greatest virtues.

The Dauphin, being at that time very young, did not in the least concern
himself in public affairs. The King had ordered him not to interfere in
politics, and he seemed sufficiently inclined to conform to such

The young Princesses kept pretty much in their apartments, and read a
great deal. Sometimes, indeed, they went a-hunting, dined with the King
in public, shewed themselves at the balls; then withdrew, without much
minding the intrigues of the court.

The Duke of Orleans, though first Prince of the blood, seldom came to
Versailles: he had given into devotion, and spent his life in deeds of

The Prince of Conti was at that time in the field, and wholly taken up
with military glory.

Condé was very young, and his uncle Charolois sunk in the most debauched

The other Princes of the royal blood had little or no share in public
affairs; accordingly they never came to Versailles, but to be present at
a great council, or at the King’s levee.

Cardinal Tencin bore a great sway at court; the King confided in him
very much; so that they often used to be busy together. The most weighty
concerns of the crown were put into this ecclesiastic’s hands. Many
extolled him as a great minister; but as I scarce knew the man, I shall
say nothing of him: yet, when I think how much France has suffered by
Richelieu, Mazarin, and Fleury, I own I do not like to see people of
that class at the head of affairs.

The Count de Maurpas excelled all the ministers of that time in genius,
activity, and penetration: he was of as long a standing in the ministry
as Lewis XV. in the sovereignty. To him the kingdom is indebted for
several noble institutions. It was he who re-established the navy,
which, after the death of Lewis XIV. had been most shamefully neglected.
I have been told that the Levant trade was entirely his work. He was
indefatigable in his department; and his dispatches were surprisingly
accurate. I have seen many of his letters; and think it is scarce
possible to comprize so many things in so few words.

The d’Argensons, who had been introduced lately into the ministry, had
as yet no settled character: they were said not to want either genius or
probity; but that is not always sufficient for a proper discharge of
such a post. I have heard that many qualifications are requisite; and
that, if the least of them be wanting, there is no making any figure in
the ministry.

The Count de St. Florentin, who managed ecclesiastical matters, was
little considered either at court or in town. He kept himself neuter
amidst the intrigues of Versailles, minding only the business of his own
department. As no great genius is required to issue letters _de cachet_,
and banish priests, he filled his post with all the dignity of a
minister whose only business is to sign.

Orry, the Comptroller-general, was looked upon as a man of abilities,
from his talent at scheming pecuniary edicts. Within some months after I
had been settled at Versailles, he laid before the King no less than
twenty-five, and these were to bring in two hundred millions. He was
called the _Grand Financier_, from his finding resources for the King,
by impairing those of the state.

The Prince de Soubise was a man of parts and discernment. He knew a
great deal; but his friends could have wished that he had not embarked
in war. The soldiery had no opinion of him: perhaps in this they were
wrong; yet a great man, who would be useful to his country, must give
way to public prejudice.

Marshal Noailles had still greater abilities; so that it may be
questioned whether ever any one statesman or general possessed so
extensive a knowlege. The forming of him was an effort of nature. There
is not a science relating to political, civil, and military government,
with which he was not intimately acquainted; but the exertion of these
qualities was limited to the cabinet. His timidity and irresolution, in
a day of action, benumbed his faculties, otherwise so excellent: his
genius was certainly vast and extensive; and I question whether Europe
had his equal in council.

Marshal Belleisle was then in high reputation: the court and town were
full of his praise. There was not in all France a man who had been at
more pains to acquire a superficial knowlege of useless things: he
pretended to be acquainted with every subject, and he had the art of
making others believe so; hence it was not in the least suspected that
he understood the art of war as little as that of negotiation: his
manners were mild and engaging, and he had an agreeable fluency of
speech; but he was so conceited of his knowlege, that although he
affected a certain degree of modesty, still his deportment was sure to
betray his pride: in short, I never knew a vainer creature.

The Chevalier Belleisle did not affect to have so much understanding as
his brother, which shewed him to have the more; but he had all the
excessive ambition of the Marshal, and lost his life in attempting to
force an intrenchment, the success of which would have raised him to the
same rank.

The Duke de Richelieu was still more idolized than Marshal Belleisle.
The King could not be without him. He was sure to be one at the private
suppers, and he superintended all the diversions of Versailles. Never
was any man like him for striking out a party of pleasure, and
enlivening it by little incidents. He made it his business to divert the
King, and was very alert in seizing every opportunity conducive to that
end: but it was not for the King’s sake that he gave himself all that
trouble: his motive of acting was his own aggrandizement; for he is
insatiably greedy of rank and distinctions. Though of no genius for war,
he had the ambition of being created a Marshal of France; and without
any political talents, he was for thrusting himself into the ministry.

Maurice of Saxony was the hero of France: he was esteemed the kingdom’s
guardian angel. I shall speak of him when I come to treat of the battle
of Fontenoy.

Monsieur d’Estrées had the reputation of an able general: I shall make
farther mention of him in the sequel.

The greater part of the other courtiers were subordinate officers: they
used to come from the army to Versailles, and then go back from
Versailles to the army; all their business at court being about
preferments. These were the Dukes of Grammont, Piquigny, Biron, la
Valiere, Boufflers, Luxembourg; the Marquisses of Putange, Maubourg,
Bregè, Langeron, Armentieres, Creil, Renepont; the Counts Coigny, la
Mothe-Houdancourt, Clermont, Estrées, Berenger; Messieurs d’Aumont,
Meuse, Ayou, Cibert, Chersey, Buckley, Segur, Fenelon, St. André,
Varennes, Montal, Balincourt, la Fare, Clermont-Tonnerre, with many more
who were for raising themselves by the sword.

There was, at that time, scarce a woman at court who aspired at the
King’s affections. Those of a distinguished rank disdained to be the
objects of a transient love; and others, who courted that situation, had
neither beauty nor graces sufficient to obtain it; so that it was only
Parisian Ladies who entered into any of these intrigues: several were
sure to place themselves in sight whenever the King dined in public; and
always attended him to the chace: in short, they were ever dangling
after his Majesty, which was just the very way to come short of their

My thoughts were employed to secure myself in the station to which
fortune had raised me. The King was with me as often as the affairs of
the crown would allow; leaving all grandeur behind him, and coming into
my apartment without any thing of that state which attends on him at
other places: for my part, I closely studied his temper.

Lewis XV. is naturally of a saturnine turn: his soul is shrouded in a
thick gloom; so that, with every pleasure at command, he may be said to
be unhappy. Sometimes his melancholy throws him into such a languor that
nothing affects him, and then he is quite insensible to all
entertainment and pleasure. In these intervals, life becomes an
insupportable burden to him. The enjoyment of a beautiful woman for a
while diverts his uneasiness; but so far is it from being a lasting
relief, that his melancholy afterwards returns upon him with redoubled

Another misfortune in this Prince’s life is, the continual conflict
between his devotion and his passions; pleasure drawing him on, and
remorse with-holding him: under this incessant struggle, he is one of
the most unhappy men in his kingdom.

I perceived that the King’s disposition was not to be changed by love
only: this put me on engaging him by the charms of conversation; which
has a stronger influence with men than the passions themselves. Of this,
history furnished me with an instance in the person of his great
grandfather. Lewis XIV. had so habituated himself to Madame de
Maintenon, that no other woman could make any impression on him; and,
tho’ the court at that time was full of celebrated beauties, Scarron’s
widow, at an age when female influence over man is generally on the
decline, found means so strongly to fix his affection, that her death
only put an end to the charm.

I planned a series of diversions, which, following close on one another,
got the better of the King’s constitution, and diverted him from
himself. I brought him to like music, dancing, plays, and little operas,
in which I myself used to perform; and private suppers terminated the
festivity. Thus the King lay down and rose in perfect satisfaction and
good humour. The next day, unless detained on some great council, or
other extraordinary ceremony, he would hasten to my apartment, to take,
if I may presume to use the expression, his dose of good humour for the
whole day. He grew fond of me from that instinct which makes us love
what contributes to our happiness. All the favourites before me had
thought only of making themselves loved by the King: it had not come
into their heads to divert him.

Thus I became necessary to his Majesty; his attachment grew stronger
every day. I could have wished that our union had rested on love only;
but with a Prince accustomed to change, we must do as well as we can.

After the first moments of surprize, which naturally arises in our minds
upon any great change, I, in my turn, gave myself up to uneasy
reflections. Amidst all the King’s affection, I feared the return of his
inconstancy. I could lay but little stress on my elevation; all bow the
knee to the idol whilst the Prince worships it; but on his
over-throwing the altar, it is trampled under foot. Some days after I
thought I had more reason than ever to fear; for the King, coming to sup
with me, seemed more thoughtful than usual. Instead of that gaiety which
began to be natural to him, his countenance was quite clouded: all his
talk was about politics, the affairs of Europe, and dispatching a
courier to the army; thus, after a short conversation, he withdrew. This
abruptness filled me with alarms: I had not a wink of sleep; and next
morning I sent him an account of my condition in the following note:


     “Your politics have quite broke my heart. I was going to say a
     thousand pleasant things to you, had not your dispatches
     interrupted me. I have not closed my eyes during the whole night;
     for God’s sake, Sire, leave Europe to itself, and allow me to lay
     open to you the state of my heart, which is on the rack when you
     deprive me of any opportunity of telling you that I love you with
     an affection, the end of which will be that of my life.”

The King having read my letter, came in person to my apartment to make
me easy; and he was now more gay than usual. I think I never saw him in
a better temper. He had already given me some insight into the great
events at that time on the carpet, and I was for diving into the truth
of these abstruse mysteries; but not a word did I then understand in
politics. I have heard that the English ladies have every morning ready
laid on their toilet a paper giving them an account of the affairs of
Europe, whereas all that we French women find there is our paint-boxes.

I applied to Marshal Belleisle. “My Lord, be so kind as to instruct me
in what you call politics, which every body here is continually talking
of.” He answered me smiling, “I cannot bring myself, Madam, to instruct
you in a science which will prove destructive to many.” Yet the veteran
courtier talked to me of systems, and enlarged upon the methods to be
used by a state for its aggrandisement.

After listening to him for some time, I concluded, though a novice at
court, that this science is not reducible to principles nor general
rules, as totally depending on time, place, and circumstances, and these
almost ever arising from chance.

In order to get a knowlege of the preceding administrations, I set
myself to read the history of our government; but it was not in books
that I sought for this knowledge, having always looked on them as the
source of public errors. I consulted original manuscripts, which were
put into my hands by the King himself. Here I saw all the former
mistakes, and the original causes of them.

As it was known both at Paris and Versailles that Lewis XV. was
unsettled in his amours, his favourites had no very regular court. It
often fell out that a lady whom the King had distinguished, lay down in
high favour, and rose in disgrace: for vacant employments and temporary
grants the favourites were practised on; but for the great purposes of
ambition other springs than mistresses were set to work.

In the first months of my favour scarce any body came near me. The Duke
de Richelieu was the only nobleman who visited me in the King’s absence;
but when, by the Monarch’s order, I made my appearance as Marchioness de
Pompadour, and his Majesty was continually giving me marks of his
esteem, the face of things changed. Envy and ambition formed two
numerous parties. The former blackened me with the most virulent malice;
and the latter as much exceeded in the most fulsome adulation. The
motive in one was hope of preferment, the other acted from a despair of
ever being preferred: both, however, joined in asking favours of me.

I used my interest with the King in behalf of both. If I raised a person
to a considerable post, or procured him a large pension, I surely drew
on myself a hundred enemies, besides his ingratitude. At length all the
kingdom came to pay their court to me; for the royal favour continued to
shine on me as bright as ever. They who had been the most forward in
reviling my birth, now claimed kindred with me. I shall never forget a
letter I received at Versailles from a gentleman of one of the most
ancient families in Provence, in the following terms:

          “Dear Cousin,

     “I did not know that I was related to you till now that the King
     has created you Marchioness de Pompadour: a learned genealogist has
     demonstrated to me, that your great-grandfather was fourth cousin
     to my grandfather; so you see, dear cousin, our alliance is
     indisputable. If you desire it, I’ll send you our pedigree, that
     you may shew it to the King.

     “In the mean time, my son, your cousin, who has served with
     distinction several years, wants a regiment; and as he cannot hope
     to obtain it by his rank, be so good as to ask the favour from the

I sent him the following answer:


     “I shall lay hold of the very first opportunity to desire his
     Majesty to give your son a regiment. But I likewise have a favour
     to ask of you, which is to dispense me from the honour of being
     related to you. I have some family reasons which forbid me to
     think, that my forefathers have ever been allied to any of the
     ancient houses of this kingdom.”

Half France would hide themselves for shame, were I to give a detail of
all the mean, fawning letters sent to me by persons of the first
families in the kingdom. A Princess could write to me in this manner:

          “My dear Friend,

     “I beg you would ask the King for a grant of farmer-general for Mr.
     Armand M----, a superannuated clerk, whose fortune I would gladly
     make. For this favour I shall hold myself obliged to you as long as
     I live.

                            I am, my dear,

                       With all possible regard,

                      Your most humble servant.”

The public envy, however, increasing with the marks of royal favour, the
world, at any rate, would make me answerable for the events of the
times. It has been in every body’s mouth, that all the misfortunes of
France were owing to me. If there were any grounds for such a charge,
the kingdom must have been in a prosperous and flourishing state when
his Majesty called me to Versailles; whereas it was very far from being
so. The cause of the evil lay deep; so that France, under all its
pressures, was only fulfilling its destiny. The misfortunes of the
administration in this reign are to be considered as flowing from the
former administration.

At the time of the demise of Lewis XIV. the kingdom was in a dreadful
disorder; the debts of the nation were immense, and the public credit
totally ruined; so that the state then laboured under an evil, which was
not to be cured by temporary remedies. Lewis the Great, by his excessive
fondness for splendor, had impoverished the people. The preceding Kings
were contented with being the stewards or managers of the general
wealth, but he made himself the proprietor of it: he became master of
the nation’s treasure, all the finances were in his hands: he had
augmented the crown revenues beyond all relative proportion: in the
course of three years the whole species of France came into his coffers:
besides, his magnificence had set his subjects the pernicious example
of impoverishing themselves by profuse expences.

The duke of Orleans, who was at the head of the state after Lewis XIV.
so far from restoring order, increased the confusion. He promoted a
system of finances, which proved their utter ruin. All the riches of the
monarchy changed hands. No such thing as money was to be seen;
foreigners ran away with one part, and domestic stock-jobbers secreted
the other; no plan of administration could be contrived, capable of
putting a stop to evils, unprecedented from the very foundation of the
monarchy. This revolution greatly affected the several branches of the
national strength. Agriculture, trade, arts, and ingenuity, were
sufferers by it, and still suffer: for I have heard very knowing persons
say, that the grand system had given birth to many detrimental systems
in the state.

Cardinal Fleury succeeded him; and things went still worse: he alone did
more harm to France than all those before him, who had like to have
ruined this realm. His particular qualities were order, oeconomy, and
moderation; virtues excellent in a private person, but in a statesman
often very great vices. All his view was, to fill the treasury, fancying
that if the King were but rich, the state would no longer be poor. Thus
he went on increasing the opulence of the crown, from the people’s
subsistence. Intent upon saving, he let the navy run to ruin, that is,
he deprived France of the only way left for retrieving itself.

Fleury died; but this produced no amendment in the administration.
France had not a minister capable of setting things to rights. They who
were put at the head of affairs, were very busy, but without any
knowledge. I have been told by a very experienced person, who used to
come and see me at Versailles, that if at the Cardinal’s death the
ministry had been put into the hands of an angel, he could not have done
the crown much good. He added, that all the most able minister could do,
was to prepare materials for a better administration. The government,
said he, has six capital imperfections, and these are not to be amended,
but by casting the constitution in a new mould.

Another outcry was my being the source of favours, and that I disposed
of every thing in the kingdom; with this addition, that I had brought
the King to such a custom of visiting me, as had made it a kind of law
to him, never to refuse me any thing. To this I answer, that it is an
evil both necessary and natural to absolute government. Sovereigns must
either have a confident or a mistress; and of the two the state
generally suffers most by the former. Men in general have ambitious
views, which a women does not trouble herself about. The confident
studies to avail himself of the prince’s favour in all the means of
raising himself to the highest fortune; he gets the sole management of
the public finances; he engrosses the most lucrative posts, and
distributes among his relations and creatures, those which he does not
take for himself: the consequence of this is a general revolution in the
government. In short, he has schemes of grandeur and elevation quite
foreign to our sex.

I have read in the annals of our monarchy that Richelieu’s ambition
brought a thousand mischiefs on France: that favourite of Lewis XIII.
sacrificed every thing to a giddy desire of appearing to be the only
person of consequence in the kingdom. He cut the very sinews of the
political power of all other bodies. He annulled the privileges of the
nobility, which alone could make any stand against the despotism of our
Kings; and therein he did more harm to France, than ever it has to fear
from any mistresses.

Mazarine, the second favourite, had an army in pay, and personally made
war on the state. He imprisoned the princes of the blood, and raised
such animosities and disturbances as in a manner subverted all
government. He got the public treasure into his possession; almost all
the money of the kingdom was in his coffers. He used to sell the
principal state employments: when the King wanted money he was obliged
to apply to him. And our times have seen Count Bruhl, the King of
Poland’s favourite exceed his master, in extravagance.

There are, at this time, several Dukes in the kingdom[1] who give France
cause to remember that its Kings have had favourites; whereas what great
fortune, what titles or distinctions has my brother Marigni? Die when
he will, he will leave no monuments of the particular favour with which
Lewis the XVth honoured me.

I have been likewise accused of introducing into the ministry persons of
no turn for business, ignorant, shallow, and superficial fellows: but
where shall I find any other in France? The human mind seems to have
been degenerated among us.

The French nobility, though most concerned in the public administration,
give no attention to business; their life is a round of indolence,
luxury, and dissipation. They know as little of politics as of finances
and œconomy. A gentleman either spends his life at his seat in rural
sports, or comes to Paris to ruin himself with an opera girl. They who
have an ambition to figure in the ministry, have no other merit than
intrigue and cabal. If they are traversed in their views, or afterwards
superseded, such measure is with them an effect of the prince’s

The age of able ministers in France seems past. After all my inquiries
for a Colbert and Louvois, I could only meet with Chamillards and
Dubois’s; so that I was forced to commit all the branches of government
to financiers by profession; a set of people void of capacity, and only
skilful in one thing, which is pillaging the state.

My enemies have farther affirmed, that I put the King on too frequent a
change of his ministers; but that is an invention, which, in no wise,
belongs to me. Before ever I knew the court, placemen were not more
settled in their posts than since. Every day saw such creations and
institutions; and this, perhaps, may still be a necessary evil in
France. Before those gentlemen are in place, nothing can come up to
their plan of government; they have effectual ways and means for
reforming every thing that is amiss; they know the seat of the disease,
and what will remove it: but no sooner have they got the reins of
government in their hands than their incapacity throws every thing into
confusion. On the public misfortunes they scarce bestow a thought; all
they mind is their own personal interest. The ambition of being prime
minister soon gets footing in them; and its continual agitation leaves
no room in their mind for any attention to the kingdom. Ten years of
administration in France make a minister so absolute, that he grows a
mere Pacha; any intimation of his is a peremptory order: the Grand
Signior is not more despotic at Constantinople than a French Secretary
of State, after spending ten years at Versailles.

It is the same with military affairs: however brave and courageous the
French nobility may be, they have little or no genius for war: the
hardship of a campaign immediately puts them out of conceit. France has
no military school[2]. A young nobleman is made a Colonel before he is
an officer, and then steps into the general command, without any
experience. If two Frenchmen are appointed to command the armies in
Flanders or Germany, immediately the spirit of envy kindles among them,
and they will gratify their private piques and quarrels, whatever
becomes of the state. In the mean time, the enemies profit by these
divisions, and forward their schemes. In the late war, the King was
obliged to commit the safety of his crown to two foreigners: had it not
been for the Counts Saxe and Lowendahl, the enemies of France might have
been at the gates of Paris.

It is a mistake to think that a woman, who is in distinguished favour
with a Prince, stands in need of weak ministers and bad generals to
support her: incapacity spoils all and answers no purpose. Political
mistakes, at the same time that they throw a shade on the Prince’s
glory, utterly efface the lustre of his favourite. I can truly say, that
most of the vexations I have gone through, since my residence at court,
proceeded from hence. On every advantage gained by our enemies the king
used to be melancholy and full of thought; and though this Prince be
extremely polite, and not one disobliging word came from his mouth, yet
his discomposure, at that time, embittered every other enjoyment of my

I never made a minister, I never advised the King to confer the command
of an army on any person, of whose abilities I was not certainly
convinced, and whose merit was not universally confessed. The great
used to compliment me on it, and the King himself congratulated me on my
good judgment of men; their fitness was proclaimed by the universal

I must here mention the troubles the court laboured under, when the King
gave me an apartment at Versailles; the occurrences of those times
belonging to the plan of these Memoirs. Without that crowd of incidents
which then fell out, and which the King used to communicate to me, my
favour perhaps had never risen to such a height; for the events of this
world are always directed by second causes.

Ever since the year 1741, France had continued to wage war in Italy, in
Flanders, and in Germany. Charles the VIth, the last male descendant of
the house of Austria by the male side, had an ambition, which was not to
be limited even by death; he was for surviving himself, and
transmitting his power beyond the grave.

This Prince, after acquiring a very large extent of dominions, had
procured them to be guarantied by the chief powers of Christendom. The
small military force at that time on foot in Europe, had induced the
Christian Princes, to such a weak compliance. Italy was quite spent; all
the petty governments of the empire were under a political slavery; and
the great houses of the North were little better. On the decease of that
Prince all began to breathe, and every one claimed their respective

The Elector of Bavaria demanded a part of the succession; Augustus King
of Poland set forth his pretensions; the King of Spain likewise put in
for a share: and, what is more, there appeared two pragmatic fanctions;
one giving the Austrian dominions to the Archduchess, spouse to the
Polish Prince; and the other securing them to Maria Theresa, Charles’s
eldest daughter. Such a contrariety of interests must of course give
rise to a general war; but it began from a quarter which policy would
never have apprehended.

The King of Prussia, almost the only Prince in Europe who had no
pretensions to the Austrian succession, yet made his demands, and,
instead of manifestoes, asserted them by the sword. His troops invaded
the very best province of all the Queen of Hungary’s dominions, and made
themselves masters of it. The crown was of no long standing in the
Brandenburgh family: it had first obtained the title of Majesty from the
Emperor Leopold; and this honour had little added to its real greatness.
The King of Prussia was of little account among the European potentates;
and what claims he had to any of the Austrian effects were merely on a
private account; and turns on the restitution of some duchies, which his
family had been possessed of by right of purchase; yet he invades
Silesia as a sovereign.

I have heard that Maria Theresa was on the brink of ruin, when her very
enemies saved her. The Hungarians, who for ages past had been
endeavouring to overthrow that family, now, one and all, vigorously rose
in her defence.

The Duke of Belleisle told me, that this change in the political world
was wrought by that Princess’s haranguing them in Latin; “a great
change, indeed (added he), for had the Hungarians abandoned that
princess, very probably we should have heard no more of the house of

Lewis XV. joined with the King of Prussia to place the Elector of
Bavaria on the Imperial throne; besides the diversion occasioned in the
North by the election, the King said, that the house of Bourbon was now
discharging an old debt with Bavaria.

Were gratitude of any weight in the conduct of Sovereigns, France might
indeed be thought to have taken arms in return for its obligations to
the Electors of Bavaria, who have ever been firm allies to this crown,
and had sustained very considerable losses in its cause.

The house of Bourbon joined with that of Brandenburgh to weaken the
succession of Charles VI; besides, the exaltation of a Prince of the
house of Bavaria to the Imperial throne secured to France an ascendancy
in Germany.

It has been reported that the King of Prussia, at first, offered Maria
Theresa money and troops to maintain her right against the other powers,
on condition of her ceding Lower Silesia to him. Had she agreed to this,
the affairs of Europe would have taken a different turn. But, from what
I have perceived since my living at Versailles, Princes often make a
tender of what they have no mind to give. This the Marshal de Noailles
called _political compliments_.

Frederick had a sure game of it; and it is seldom that Princes ask of
others what they can get by themselves. The house of Austria was not
able to make head against his invasion of Silesia; nothing was in
readiness for preventing it; therefore France in a manner could do no
otherwise than declare for the Prussian Monarch. Accordingly the treaty
was made; and to give it the greater weight the King of Poland was made
a party; he then little thought that this same Frederic would one day
invade his dominions.

This confederacy was the basis of several others: the Palatinate, Spain,
and Italy came into the plan; Spain wanted to procure Parma, Placentia,
and the Milaneze, for Don Philip.

All the negociations in Germany were committed to the Marshal Belleisle.
The poor Elector of Bavaria, who was to be made Emperor, had not
wherewith to raise six regiments; so that, in the war which we were now
undertaking for his sake, every thing was to be furnished him. France as
it were armed him from head to foot; and made him her Lieutenant General
in Germany: and thus the successor of the Cæsars became a subaltern
officer of the house of Bourbon: however, in consequence of his title,
an army was sent for him to command.

Whilst one party was forming to overthrow the house of Austria, another
was gathering to prevent its fall. Holland and England, whose common
interest it was that there should be a power in Germany able to cope
with Versailles, were already making preparations for a German war; but
hitherto the house of Austria received only pecuniary aids.

Prague was taken, and the Elector of Bavaria proclaimed King of Bohemia,
and soon after Emperor. This last title he first received from Marshal
Belleisle: thus a subject of the King of France disposes of a throne,
which anciently, had disposed of all the empires of the world.

This Marshal has since said to me, that the court of Versailles overshot
itself, and that the war had been begun where it should have ended. The
armies of the King of France and the Elector of Bavaria, together with
the Saxon troops, were not sufficient for keeping the countries which it
was necessary to reduce.

The victors advanced without ever looking behind them, till Marshal
Belleisle, foreseeing that these victories would soon occasion defeats,
thought it proper to be indisposed, and ask leave to retire. Marshal
Brogolio was dispatched to him, and on taking a view of things, soon saw
into the cause of Belleisle’s indisposition. Six years after, these two
Generals being in my apartment, the latter said to the other concerning
this affair, _faith, Marshal, you played me a scurvy trick there_.

The Hungarians made good all losses of men; and I have been since told
by connoisseurs in military affairs, that of infantry we sent a
sufficiency, but had forgot cavalry, which, in Germany, is the more
necessary body.

The King of Prussia’s drift was to profit by the disadvantages of his
allies: he had made conquests, which he carefully kept to himself,
regardless of the losses of his allies; but he still wanted a decisive
victory to make himself dreaded by the house of Austria, with whom he
was already disposed to come to terms. He fought the battle of Czaslaw,
which terminating in a complete victory on his side, he remained
inactive, and soon after struck up a peace with Maria Theresa.

Every thing now went against France; her troops were driven from their
posts, her convoys intercepted, her magazines seized, and the far
greater part of the army perished by sickness.

Then it was that the French Generals discovered the Prussian Monarch’s
temper. Marshal Belleisle has often told me, that he had seen into his
way of thinking; but judged that the progress of the French arms in
Germany would force him to be faithful to the alliance. So true is this,
added he, that on the first rumour of our misfortunes, I said to M. de
Broglio, _the King of Prussia now will shift sides_.

One of the articles of the treaty was, to renounce his alliance with the
house of Bourbon; and thus the French troops were sacrificed.

For that, said a very knowing man to me, not long since, we may thank
the council of Versailles, which, instead of such a body of troops as
would have been equal to any undertaking, had only sent small armies,
whose sickness ruined them as fast as they came.

The Emperor, being but ill assisted by France, was flying before his
enemies; he had quitted his capital, and was at a loss where to shelter
himself. His destiny seemed the more melancholy, as he was on the point
of being tumbled down from the highest pitch of human exaltation.

Of all his mortifications the most severe certainly was his being forced
to become a suppliant to his capital enemy, the Queen of Hungary. He
made her an offer to limit his ambition to the imperial crown, and
desist from all his claims to the Austrian succession.

But things now went so well with Maria Theresa, that, instead of a
moderate answer to these proposals, she very nearly called him rebel,
and driving him out of Bavaria, signified to him that the only safe
shelter for him in Germany was the territory of the empire.

England’s hands were tyed; Maillebois, at the head of a large body of
troops, had obliged George II. to sign a treaty of neutrality, and the
Dutch were unable and as little disposed to interfere in the affairs of

Robert Walpole, then the ruling minister in Great Britain, was all for
peace, as understanding nothing of war. Every minister in Europe, (as a
man of great wit, who often came to me at Versailles, pointed out to me)
has his peculiar talents, according to which he gives the bias to public
affairs. Walpole’s system was that the power of Great Britain lay in
trade, and that such a nation is to keep clear of sieges and battles.

The king shewed me several of that minister’s letters to Cardinal
Fleury. In one he says,

“_I engage to keep the parliament to a peaceable disposition, if you
will bridle the martial ardour of your people; for a minister in England
cannot do every thing_,” &c. &c.

In another,

“_I have a deal of difficulty to keep our people from coming to blows;
not that they are bent on war, but because I am for preserving peace;
for our English politicians must be ever skirmishing, either in the
field or at Westminster._”

In a third letter he expresses himself thus:

“_I pension half the parliament to keep it quiet; but as the King’s
money is not sufficient, and they to whom I give none, clamour loudly
for a war, it would be expedient for your Eminence to remit me three
millions of French livres, in order to silence these barkers. Gold is a
metal which here corrects all qualities in the blood. A pension of two
thousand pounds a year will make the most impetuous warrior in
parliament as tame as a lamb. In short, should England break out, you
will, besides the uncertainty of events in war, be under the necessity
of paying larger subsidies to foreign powers, to be on an equality with
us; whereas, by furnishing me with a little money, you purchase peace at
the first hand._” &c. &c.

But Walpole having been obliged to quit the ministry, Great Britain
sided with the house of Austria. She was already at war with Spain. The
English sent a large army into Flanders, before ever the court of
Versailles had thought of garrisoning its strong places, so that the way
lay open for them into France; and why they did not enter it, will ever
remain a secret. A British minister has since told me, that there were
at that time too many malecontents in the army; and that the invasion of
France was omitted, purely in spight to a party, who had ever
maintained, that the only way to restore the balance of Germany, was to
penetrate beyond Flanders. Thus, added the minister by way of
reflection, our government which is looked on as one of the best modeled
in Europe, is sacrificed to private passions.

Prague, that city on which France had founded all its hopes, began to be
despaired of; and from thence it was that, some time after, Belleisle
made that fine retreat, with which, every day of his life afterwards I
was sure to be entertained; for the old man was very vain. He used to
say, it was the finest military performance the age had seen.

All Europe was in a ferment. Italy had taken arms to defend a liberty
which it no longer enjoyed. I have been told that the Pope himself
entered into treaties tending to continue and spread the war.

The balance of Europe seems to have been the point in question; but all
states aimed at giving France some underhand wounds.

Cardinal Fleury, though he had avoided war, had not studied peace so
much as he ought. He had, for some years past, perfectly doated through
length of age, and his sticklers took his reveries for so many refined
strokes of policy.

Some people in France have greatly cried up his order and œconomy,
whereas they were nothing more than the effects of his niggardliness;
for so penurious was he, that he never could prevail on himself to
furnish his house. All the affairs of France savoured of avarice and

On his death, the King became his own master; for till then Lewis had
been in reality only the second person in the state: but he made not
the least alteration in the tenour of affairs. The same faults went on;
so that a judicious person who, at that time, had a place at court, told
me lately, that things looked as if the Cardinal had been living after
his death, small armies being sent into Germany, by way of œconomy;
which all perished like the former. The Dutch, after many prayers and
threats, had declared themselves.

I have been told by a person who has made it his business to observe the
policy of every nation, that the Dutch have two maxims from which they
never depart, the first is, whatever wars arise between the great
powers, to be always neuter, that they may engross the whole commerce of
Europe. The second is, to watch the moment of France’s being
over-powered by its enemies, and then declare against it. It was
unquestionably in consequence of the latter, that they joined their
troops to those of England, and took the field. This last alliance was
offensive and defensive, and all Europe found itself in a state of war.

Germany, Holland, Flanders, Piedmont, and every part of Italy, swarmed
with soldiers. The Count d’Argenson calculated that Europe had then nine
hundred thousand men on foot, ready to cut each others throats, without
any known reason. Particularly France was ruining its finances, and
losing the flower of its people, to no manner of purpose; for, after
all, said an able politician to me one day, on this head, what was an
Elector of Bavaria’s being Emperor of Germany to us; or Don Philip being
Duke of Parma? I shall never forget what I read in Voltaire concerning
this: _It was_, says he, _a game that Princes were playing all over
Europe, hazarding, pretty equally, their people’s blood and treasure_;
_and by a medley of fine actions, faults, and losses, keeping fortune a
long time suspended_. It must be observed that, amidst all this
fighting, no war had been declared; the greater part of the troops
slaughtered each other only as auxiliaries.

Charles VII. the cause of this general conflagration, had now neither
subjects nor dominions left; he was not allowed so much as to bear the
title of Emperor, the only honour remaining to him; and his election was
declared all over Germany to be null and void; so that he saw himself
reduced to accept of a neutrality in his own cause. This step alone
ought to have put an end to the German war; but, by my own experience, I
have since known, that princes do not make war from any connected
system, but only as coinciding with the motions of second causes.

The large French armies were now withdrawn out of Germany; indeed most
of the troops left there had been made prisoners of war. The Marshal de
Noailles has several times said to me, that of all the political errors
committed in Europe for these thousand years past, the German war was
the greatest.

In reading the history of that time, it appeared to me, that of all the
princes engaged in the war, Emanuel King of Sardinia was the only one
who had any shadow of reason for it. France was for settling contiguous
to his dominions, a prince of the house of Bourbon, whose settlement
must have been highly inconvenient to him; accordingly, in order to
exclude this dangerous neighbour, he struck in with the enemies of
France. From the beginning of the war, this prince had assisted the
house of Austria, and now entered into a treaty with it. England
supplied him with money to defray the charges of the war: but the Queen
of Hungary went farther, conferring on him a little state, which did
not belong to her[3].

France, in 1744, declared war against England, and the house of Austria;
and soon after this declaration, a great project was taken in hand:
overtures were made to Prince Edward, the Pretender’s son, for
recovering the throne of his ancestors.

He was a spirited, bold, courageous young man, quite tired of leading an
indolent life at Rome, and impatient to signalize himself.

The house of Stuart is so unfortunate, that I question, whether it would
be in the power of all Europe joined, to restore it to its antient
rights. There seems something of a fatality annexed to that name.

France made all the preparatives in his favour, and gave him all the
assistance which the posture of affairs could admit of; but the whole
design miscarried. A long time after, I, one day, asked the King,
whether it had been his real intention, to place the Pretender on the
throne of Great Britain? his answer was, that neither he nor his council
ever thought it practicable; that this restoration depended on a
multitude of second causes, the course of which was no longer under any
political direction. The Marshal de Noailles one day said to him in my
hearing, _Sir, if your Majesty would have had mass said in London, you
should have sent an army of three hundred thousand men to officiate at

In the mean time, young Edward, eager of doing something to be talked
of, put to sea, and had a distant view of the kingdom, the possession of
which both fate and policy denied to him. A tempest disappointed his
landing, and scattered his fleet; yet the ardent Pretender would, in
spight of the wind, make his landing good, and fight alone against all
England. Versailles had received the most particular assurances, that he
had a very strong party at London, and it was on this plan that the
expedition had been formed.

It is not very long since I happened to be at the Marshal Bellisle’s; as
he was looking for some writings in his closet, he put a paper into my
hand, saying, _There, Madam, there is something for you to read; that
letter has cost us a great many millions, which are gone to the bottom
of the sea; it was directed to the court of France, by a party of_
Jacobites, _as they are called in England_. The words of it were these.

“_The tabernacle is ready, the holy sacrament need but appear, and we
will go and meet it with the cross. The procession will be numerous, but
the people here being very hard of belief, soldiers and arms will be
necessary; for it is only by powder and ball, that the system of
transubstantiation can be made to go down in England. Depend on it,
that we will do every thing to the utmost of our power; and we can
before hand assure you, that the landing once made, our party will have
nothing to do but to pronounce these words_: ite, Missa est.”

In this letter were mentioned twenty-two persons, several of whom now
hold a considerable rank in England. Sometime after, he showed me
another, the tenor of which is this.

“_Whatever people say, the expedition is not difficult: a landing may
easily be made; every tiring favours the revolution; the advantages
religion gives us, will be greatly strengthed by political motives. The
Hanoverian is hated, he is continually oppressing the nation, aiming
both at absolute power, and draining the peoples substance._”

The attempt on England failing, fresh efforts were made in Italy for
settling Don Philip; but this the King of Sardinia, who has the key of
the Alps, opposed; and the Prince of Conti engaged to make his way
through them. This was in some measure warring against God, who has
separated the two states by inaccessible mountains. I have had several
times read to me in my apartment, the transactions of that Prince in
those impracticable climates; the taking Chateau Dauphin, and his other
successes amidst those rocks and precipices: and the Prince of Conti in
this expedition appears to me greater than many heroes whose fame is
high; but great men have not always justice done them.

Lewis XV. who never had seen an army, was now for putting himself at the
head of his troops, and determined to make his first campaign in
Flanders. On his arrival, Courtray surrendered; and soon after Menin
followed its example. The King himself, to the great encouragement of
the soldiery, used to be present at the works.

This first campaign of the King’s having been much talked of in France;
on the peace, I asked his Majesty, whether he had found in himself a
fixed inclination for war. He at first eluded answering me, and talked
in general terms; but a year after, in one of those moments of
confidence, when the heart lays itself open in the arms of friendship,
he told me it would have been his reigning passion; and that, without
the recent example of his great-grand-father, and Cardinal Fleury’s
earnest councils to him, he should totally have given himself up to war;
but that the affection due to his people had got the better of his
passion. Happy government, when the Monarch sacrifices his propensions
to the welfare of his subjects!

Lewis was obliged to quit his first conquests, and fly to the assistance
of Alsace, Prince Charles having passed the Rhine to invade several of
the French provinces; but upon the King’s approach at the head of his
army, the prince repassed the Rhine.

All the advantages which France had gained in Flanders did not much
improve its situation. The Queen of Hungary’s alliance with England,
Holland, Sardinia, and Saxony was too great a counterpoize. The king of
Prussia himself made a convention with Great Britain, but had not
included in his agreement that the house of Austria should become so
powerful. In treaties between Sovereigns, it is always understood, that
the party in favour of whom a neutrality is observed, shall not increase
his forces beyond a certain relative proportion: now the house of
Brandenburgh has more to fear from that of Austria than from any other
in Europe; so he kept himself a mere spectator of the war, whilst the
losses of France and the emperor were inconsiderable; but on the queen’s
making a rapid progress, he armed to stop her career. I have since
frequently asked the Marshal de Noailles, one of the greatest
politicians in France, why Sovereign Princes make no scruple to commit
these breaches of faith, which in common life are reckoned intolerable
vices? His constant answer was, that these infractions were necessary,
and that Europe even owed its safety to them: were it not for such
failures, the universal commonwealth would soon be made subject to one
single prince; and this he might compass, only by once bringing the
others to stand neuter.

The King of Prussia’s first step, after his new alliance with France,
was, to march with a powerful army towards Prague. Whilst all France was
rejoicing at Frederic’s successes, advice came that the King was taken
ill at Metz, and the symptoms were grown very dangerous: this caused a
general affliction; I remember every body was in tears. These cordial
marks of affection are a higher praise, and express his character better
than all the flattering strokes with which writers will disfigure his
history. I have talked with many who were present at the death of Lewis
XIV. and according to them, not a tear was shed in France. Nobody was
afflicted with the news; and his death was quite forgot before he was
buried; heroism being less esteemed than goodness; and Lewis XV. is the
best Prince that ever sat on a throne.

The beloved Monarch recovered, and then the nation’s joy exceeded its
former consternation. He laid siege to Friburg in Brisgau, and razed its
fortifications, as he had demolished those of other places which had
yielded to his arms: A policy, which, perhaps, may prevent many wars

M. de Maurepas was saying one day to me on this head, that the Turks and
Persians have scarce any fortified places, and that was the reason of
their seldom making war on one another. I have since heard, that most of
our wars in Europe were owing to this; that states confided too much in
bastions and citadels, which hindered negociations from taking effect.
If so, the famous Vauban, whose genius is so often extolled, must have
done a great deal of mischief to France.

In the mean time, the King of Prussia, who, by arming in favour of
France, had changed all the German systems, decamped from Prague; his
army fled before that of Prince Charles, who, repassing the Rhine in the
sight of the French, crossed the Elbe to attack the Prussians. I never
could come at a certain knowledge of this Prince Charles, who directed
most of the plans of this war; some speaking so very well of him, and
others so very ill, that I have not been able to form any settled
judgment of his character.

Marshal Noailles, who knows men, has told me that this Prince wanted
neither talents nor genius, but that the goodness of his heart
frustrated the qualities of his mind. Instead of having a will of his
own, added he, he suffers himself to be directed by those about him; and
these are not always the best head-pieces in the world. For instance,
continued he, Prince Charles is now at Brussels as Governor of the Low
Countries; but there is a German about him, who turns and winds him at
his pleasure, and his pleasure is not always what should be.

The Austrian power, which had been weakened by the king of Prussia’s
joining with France, now received an increase by an alliance with the
Elector of Saxony, King of Poland. This Monarch changed measures for the
same reason which had induced the King of Prussia to change.

All parties in these treaties deceived each other. France looked for
mighty advantages from a diversion which the King of Prussia was making
only for himself; and the King of Poland, who had engaged to furnish the
Queen with thirty thousand men, had a part of Silesia given to him,
which now did not belong to her.

Elevated with this alliance, and especially the assistance of England,
the council at Vienna hoped not only to recover Silesia, but even to
reduce French Flanders. They certainly did not consider that Lewis XV.
had committed the security of it to one, who was most likely to give a
good account of it to the kingdom: This was Count Maurice of Saxony.

Other officers owe their abilities to age, reflection, and experience,
but he was born a General. His very enemies (and these at Versailles
were not few) have done him this justice, that never man surpassed him
for a quick and comprehensive penetration. He instantly discerned what
other commanders discovered only by time and circumstances. Maurice not
only foresaw events, but also produced them; so that he may in some
measure be said to have determined fate. This general made war
geometrically, never coming to a battle till he had in demonstration
gained it. He was said also to be possessed of the great Turenne’s
distinguishing qualities, that is, to harrass and perplex the enemy by
his dexterity in encamping and decamping; a kind of petty war, which
seldom fails of leading to great advantages.

This picture, however, is none of my own; I only speak after some of the
trade, who used to talk to me in this manner.

Whilst the war was prospering abroad, things went wrong at home. The
King was at a loss for ministers. The Count de Maurepas put the marine
in as good a condition as the English and the state of affairs would
allow: but the other departments were in a terrible disorder. The
foreign affairs were offered to one Villeneuve, an old man, who had been
a long time ambassador at the Porte, where, though his merit has been
much cried up, he had ruined the Turky trade, by turning merchant
himself. He came home from his ambassy with immense riches, chiefly
extorted from the merchants of Marseilles. His principal qualities were
management and parsimony. These virtues, so much countenanced by
Cardinal Fleury, were greatly in vogue at Versailles. Niggardliness bore
the sway. The decrepid ambassador declined the post, doubtless as being
attended with more pains than profit. Besides, I have heard those who
knew him personally say, that he was not in the least fit for that
branch of government. His abilities had been much talked of, for having
brought about a peace between the Porte and the house of Austria; but at
Constantinople, these sort of negociations are carried on without a
minister’s having any great share in them. I have it from M. de
Maurepas, that the chief instrument in that affair, was a French
linguist, one de Laria, who was perfectly well acquainted with the
temper of the Turks, and had been employed by Villeneuve in that

In the mean time, affairs in Italy did not go so well as could be
wished; Don Philip had taken and retaken Savoy, but could not make his
way into the country of Placentia.

The King of Naples, whom only a captain of an English ship had
compelled to a neutrality, because he was not in a condition to arm,
broke it as soon as he had got himself in readiness for war.

He had advanced as far as Veletri, where Prince Lobkowitz endeavouring
to surprise him, was himself surprised. The loss was great on both
sides, and, as I have heard from very experienced officers, the case was
then as it almost ever is on such occasions, they both weakened
themselves, and without any advantage even to the victor.

Lobkowitz fled before the King of Naples, who pursued him into the
Ecclesiastical State; so that Rome itself was in a consternation, on
seeing two armies at its gates.

A small event, which fell out at this time in Germany, shews the great
injustice of war, in making the belligerant powers overlook the very
laws of nations, which should every where be inviolable.

The King had sent Marshal Belleisle to several German courts in quality
of his ambassador, and, as such, he was negociating the affairs of the
crown; yet this minister, in his way along the skirts of the country of
Hanover, was seized, and sent over to England as a state prisoner.

This general was treated with great regard, and one of the royal seats
appointed for his residence; but this splendid hospitality only the more
exposed the injustice of that nation.

The Marshal has since told me, that he was not at all sorry for his
detention, as it had given him an opportunity of studying the temper of
that capricious people in their own country. I have heard him say a
hundred times, that a Briton was the riddle of human nature; he would
say, it is easy to discern what the bulk of the nation is, but there is
no knowing the individuals. According to him, a definition may be given
of the English in general, but it is impossible to say what an
Englishman is.

Vienna, Berlin, and Versailles, were busied in the same plans which had
been concerted in the council, when an unforeseen event brought on some
change in the dispositions. Charles VII, that unfortunate emperor, who
had not known a moment’s quiet on the august throne of the Cæsars, died.
If it be nature only which can make men happy, he was of all men the
most miserable. He had long laboured under great pains and sufferings
from the badness of his constitution; and ambition, which is ever the
predominant distemper in sovereigns, added to his bodily pains: amidst
his infirmities, all his thoughts were about securing himself on a
throne, which the ill state of his health was soon to deprive him of.
Many were the vicissitudes of his reign. He was once very near being
without a place to hide his head. He has often been obliged to quit his
capital, and shift his abode; so that the successor of the masters of
the world was sometimes without either house or home.

He was paid by France for being Emperor. He had an allowance of six
millions of livres to support a rank which, for that very reason, did
not belong to him. They who are acquainted with the causes of the rise
and fall of houses, say, that the misfortunes of that of Bavaria were
owing to its alliance with that of Bourbon; and this, it seems, will
ever be the case of petty states uniting with the greater.

On the decease of Charles VII. France looked out for an Emperor in
Germany; for that Charles’s son could quietly succeed his father, was
impossible. He was not of a proper age; neither had he the means to
maintain himself on the Imperial throne, even had there been an
intention to place him on it: yet was he thought of, but no farther than
in appearance; it was only a feigned scheme. A very sensible man was
lately saying to me, There is a meanness in princes which I cannot
forgive: they feign to wish what they do not intend, and yet act as if
they did intend it. This duplicity has cost the lives of multitudes of
brave men, and ruins the commonwealth.

Some fruitless strokes were again struck for insuring the Imperial
sceptre to a Prince, who was known not to be able to keep it; but the
young Elector, with more wisdom than his father, renounced a throne on
which his allies could not maintain him, and thereby did more good to
France, than could have accrued to her from the most happy successes of
her policy.

A tender was then made to the King of Poland; and in this choice, France
had the advantage of detaching from the house of Austria a powerful
Sovereign. It has been said that the Elector of Saxony declined the
empire: but Marshal Belleisle told me, that he could not accept of it,
and that he saw the impracticability of such a thing, on the very first
mention made to him of it. A King of Poland, Emperor of Germany, would
have thrown all the northern courts into a flame; and this double
Monarch would have had as many wars on his hands, as there were then
Sovereigns in Germany. Thus seeing the impossibility of such an
acquisition, he made a merit with the Queen of Hungary of his inability,
entering into a closer alliance with her, for placing the great Duke of
Tuscany, her spouse, on the throne of the Cæsars. Could it be thought
that policy was no motive herein, the King of Poland might be accounted
a Prince of eminent probity. He had a defensive treaty with the Queen of
Hungary, so that he sacrificed his ambition to that alliance; a very
rare procedure in the history of sovereigns!

The Prince of Soubise, talking over these matters with me, said, that
the irregularity of the treaties in Germany, after the death of Charles
VII. had forced France to be more regular in its conduct relating to the
northern affairs; and ever since it has kept itself to a defensive war,
which certainly was its only proper policy.

Germany being left to itself, Flanders became the seat of action.
Maurice had prepared every thing there for one of those bold strokes
which determine the destiny of states. He laid siege to Tournay, the
King himself being present in person; this siege endangered Holland,
which on this occasion was eager for coming to blows.

It was with astonishment I read in the annals of those times, that this
tribe of merchants, who have no thoughts beyond trade and parsimony,
should now have been the first in calling for a battle, the loss of
which might have been fatal to the republic.

The battle of Fontenoy was fought, and the allies lost it. This victory
has made a great noise in the world; but by the detail which a general
officer at my desire gave me of it, I do not find it to be one of those
events which greatly heighten a nation’s glory.

The French army was much more numerous than the allies, and both the
King and Dauphin were present; the presence of these two Princes, thus
eye-witnesses of the bravery of their troops, created a second courage,
which in gaining victories goes farther than the first: the magazines
were full; the soldiers wanted for nothing; the household-troops were
there; and the whole was commanded by an experienced general, whom the
troops idolized, as capable of the greatest enterprizes: the Princes of
the blood, the Dukes, Peers, and almost all the nobility of the kingdom,
fought along with the soldiery, sharing their dangers and glory; in a
word, the whole French monarchy was present at Fontenoy. If, with all
these advantages, the allies had got the better, there would have been
an end of the monarchy; for the enemy was marching to the gates of
Paris. I am far from intending here to lessen the glory of Marshal Saxe,
who conducted the action.

He has often given me an account of it since the peace, and I find that
here, tho’ then very low in health, he surpassed himself. His thoughts
were every where, and he remedied every thing: whatever an able
commander could do, he really performed. Some persons of the trade,
however, have affirmed to me, that very great faults were committed that
day; and that to repair them, it was frequently necessary to disobey the
General’s orders. The Duke de Biron took on himself to keep the post of
Antoin, though he had been expressly ordered to quit it. But in my
opinion, one of the most considerable was, leaving the King and the
Dauphin, during the whole action, on the spot where they had placed
themselves. A general rout, and this rout was two or three times very
near happening, would have exposed France to the worst of misfortunes.

It has been said in several histories, that the Marshal was so confident
of gaining the battle, that he made no doubt of it; but he has often
told me himself, that two or three times he apprehended it lost, and
that he had always doubted of the victory till the household had
charged. One evident proof of his uncertainty was, his sending two or
three times to the King to withdraw.

I was extremely uneasy about this important event, when a letter was
brought me from his Majesty. I opened it with trembling hands, and found
it as follows:

                  From the camp at Fontenoy, an hour
                           after the battle.


     “I saw all lost, till Marshal Saxe retrieved all: he has surpassed
     himself in this action; my troops fought with invincible courage;
     the houshold especially performed wonders; I owe the victory to
     that corps. The French noblesse fought under my eye; it was with
     pleasure I beheld their heroic valour.”

            *       *       *       *       *

            *       *       *       *       *

            *       *       *       *       *

These three lines were in cyphers.

This letter was very acceptable, and removed all my fears.

From the time of the King’s departure from France, I had often converse
with the Abbe de Bernis, who had been recommended to me to keep me
company during the King’s absence.

He had been introduced into the great world by women; for he had all
those little talents with which our sex are so taken, compliance,
affability, genteel ways, suppleness, gaiety, fluency of speech, a
smooth tongue, a pretty knack at versifying, and all those qualities set
off with a very handsome person.

This Abbe was never at a loss for well turned compliments to the ladies,
so that he was always welcome among the sex. As in our first
conversations he never dropt the least intimation about preferment; I
imagined that, at last, I had met with a truly worthy person, one whose
noble soul soared above riches and honour. But I was mistaken; this Abbe
was eaten up with a desire of court distinction, concealing an unbounded
ambition under a hypocritical disinterestedness. His apartment, as I
have been informed, was, as it were, a perfect warehouse of memoirs;
some related to the farms of the revenues, others to œconomy, some
concerning war, some the navy, and others the finances. He had a
wonderful readiness at forming projects. He could scheme any thing he
had a mind to.

The action of Fontenoy led the way to other conquests in Austrian
Flanders, and the Flemings every where received Lewis XV. with the
loudest acclamations. I have read in most of the revolutions of the
world, that the people greatly rejoice at a change of masters.

This victory caused a general revolution; the Germans and English
determined to break into the kingdom. They made their way by Provence
and Bretagne, but they only shewed themselves. The Austrians passed the
Var, and then repassed it. The English landed and returned to their
ships. Our modern history is full of these military follies. Posterity
will ever be at a loss why General Sinclair, who commanded in this
expedition, after bringing a French city to capitulate, moved off
without reaping the fruits of the capitulation.

They who shall read the annals of our age, will scarce believe that the
cabinets of Europe could have committed so many faults, and that the
Generals of armies could have fallen into so many errors.

The Genoese, who had introduced the Spaniards into Italy, were forsaken
by them; so that the state of Genoa was invaded by the Austrians, who
even made themselves masters of the capital. They first required of the
Genoese what money they had, and after stripping them, demanded still

In the mean time the German army was in pursuit of the French and
Spaniards, and crossing the Var after them, took post in Provence.
Botta, in whose care the city had been left, and who was at St. Peter
des Arenes, forgot that he had no army to keep it, and that what
remained in that suburb, was only a sickly half-dead multitude; the
consequence of which was a sudden revolution, too strong for him to

The Genoese, whom a large army had awed into submission, recovered their
freedom on its departure. Here Botta was guilty of a great oversight; he
proposed to the senate to join him against the rebels, as he called
them, not perceiving that they underhand encouraged the insurrection:
they readily promised to act in concert with him; but this was only to
give the people time to gather and unite their strength: it was too late
when the general came to be aware of their design; he fled with such
precipitancy, as to leave all his magazines behind.

The King shewed me a letter sent to court from a Genoese Senator, giving
a particular account of the whole transaction; the beginning, progress,
and end of the scheme laid for shaking off the Austrian yoke. The great
council had for some time secretly promoted it. It was not setting the
Genoese to draw cannon, which occasioned its revolution; it might indeed
hasten the execution of it; but the plan had been concerted long before:
thus is posterity often misled in histories, attributing to accident
what was the effect of premeditated design.

This deliverance was attended with another happiness to Genoa; it had at
that time no citizen who could have deprived the Republic of its
liberty. The juncture was extremely favourable; the people had got the
whole power of the state into their hands. Now I have heard our
politicians say, that on such junctures, giving money, and granting
privileges, will carry every point.

This revolution, which seemed only a private concern, changed the system
of general affairs. The Austrians, who intended to besiege Toulon, and
lay Marseilles under contribution, were obliged to repass the Var, for
want both of shelter and provisions.

The court of Vienna, inflamed at this event, blocked up Genoa, and
threatened the inhabitants with the severest treatment, if they did not
immediately surrender; but the Genoese, being supported by the French,
made a vigorous resistance, without being intimidated by menaces; and
Boufflers, and afterwards the Duke de Richelieu, were sent to command
there. M. Maurepas has often told me, that it was a great oversight in
the English, who blocked up Genoa by sea, in not having a number of
flat-bottomed boats to hinder any French succours from getting into

This precaution would have changed the whole disposition of affairs in
Italy. Genoa, then incapable of any further resistance must have
surrendered to the Austrians, and the Infant Don Philip, the subject of
the war, would never have seen Parma and Placentia.

Lewis XV. after taking seven fine cities in Flanders, returned to Paris;
and it may be said that never was such joy displayed in that city, as at
the sight of this Prince; every street rang with shouts of gladness and

Amidst the many checks which England had met with in Flanders, the
Pretender conveyed himself into Scotland. As he had neither armies nor
ships, some courtiers said, _he had swam thither_. It was not very
difficult to foresee the issue of this enterprize, every step and
circumstance of it being irregular. A very intelligent man told me at
that time, that the most fortunate thing which could happen to the
Pretender, would be to get out of Scotland as clandestinely as he got
in: but he was a young man, rather fond of executing his projects in a
singular manner, than concerned about the success of them.

This enterprize, however ill conducted, had one advantage for
Versailles, that it caused a diversion in England. France has always
made use of the house of Stuart for its private views. I am sorry that
George II. who wanted neither courage nor firmness, should have shewn
any uneasiness at it. An English nobleman told me, that he caused the
London militia to take an oath, that they did not in any-wise believe
that the pope had ever a right of causing Princes to be murdered. He
also had the records of Rochester searched for the form of the
excommunication anciently denounced by the Popes, to stimulate the
English against the see of Rome. I would not have Princes stoop to
trifles, which always betray a weak mind; a prince on the throne should
act with magnanimity.

The Pretender published a manifesto in vindication of his rights,
addressed to the people of England; but this manifesto contained only
empty words, whilst George had on his side troops and cannon.

Marshal Belleisle more than once took notice to me of a remarkable
passage in this manifesto. Prince Edward there owns that the house of
Stuart lost the English throne in some measure by its own fault, and
promises amendment. _If_, says he, _the complaints formerly brought
against our family did take their rise from some errors in our
administration; it has sufficiently expiated them_.--Young Edward took
possession of the kingdoms of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, in
his father’s name, declaring himself regent. For England well and good;
but thus to make a king of France, was too hasty. Those titles, however,
resting on no surer grounds than the possession, as quickly

At this time France endeavoured to keep the Dutch neuter; both courts
published manifestoes, and the ministers negociated: but this project of
neutrality produced only a fresh paper war. The Abbe de la Ville
presented memorials drawn up with great pomp and accuracy of stile, and
he was answered with an elegant conciseness; but fighting still went on.

The face of affairs in Germany had changed; the King of Prussia
acknowledged the Great Duke of Tuscany Emperor, and made his peace with
the house of Austria. I have often heard a smart saying of Marshal
Belleisle on this head. _I very well knew_, said he, _that this man, who
is so fond of war, would incline to peace on the first opportunity to
his advantage_.

M. Soubise more than once said to me, _That Monarch would have owned the
Pope for Emperor, had any Sovereign in Germany given him only a hundred
square acres of land_. This peace was so far advantageous to France, as
it diminished the power of the house of Austria. Apparently Italy alone
would be the sufferer, as it was to be supposed that the Queen of
Hungary, being quite at leisure in Germany, would be for fighting on the
other side the Alps. She sent reinforcements to the Low Countries,
which, however, could not hinder Marshal Saxe from taking Brussels. It
was then that Lewis XV. to compleat the conquest of Austrian Flanders,
set out to command the army in person.

Our progresses were very rapid; the King’s presence, and the soldiers
confidence in Marshal Saxe’s abilities, made every thing easy. It was
otherwise with the Pretender in Scotland, who fled before the enemy, and
at length lost a decisive battle against the Duke of Cumberland.

In these circumstances it was that M. d’Argenson wrote, though
indirectly, to the English government, in favour of young Edward. A man
of wit has since shewed me how extremely ridiculous this was; for had
there been a design that Edward should not out-live his temerity, a
better method could not have been invented for having him made away

That minister represented him to the court as a relation of the King’s,
for whose person and qualities this Monarch had the highest value. He
insisted that King George was a Prince of too much equity, not to
perceive the Pretender’s son’s merit. This manifesto afterwards told the
English, that they ought to admire him for those qualities of an eminent
patriot, which so conspicuously shone in him. It then proceeded to the
dangerous consequences which might result to England, from any severe
treatment to young Edward, &c. They did not see that this declaration
must have produced a quite contrary effect to that proposed. The
Pretender’s crime was not his coming over to Scotland, but in being
France’s ally. Consistent people said, either Prince Edward is a rebel,
or King George is an usurper; and Sovereigns should not countenance
rebels, nor solicit usurpers.

The invention of this intercessory letter is fathered on a Cardinal, who
being a member of the sacred college, was for securing the Pretender’s
retreat; whereas it was the very way to obstruct it. Accordingly
England, making no account of this manifesto, set a price on his head,
and some Lords who had taken up arms for him, were publicly beheaded.

Whilst all the Princes of Europe were at war together, their ministers
were repairing to Breda, to negociate a peace. This necessarily
increased the business of cabinets, having both military and pacific
operations on the carpet. The dearth of ministers still continued in
France; none could be found capable of healing the public misfortunes.
M. d’Argenson, who had the foreign affairs, only increased the
confusion. They were committed to M. de Puisieux, who was then at Breda,
where he was ordered to feign great zeal and assiduity in bringing about
a definitive treaty; this was only a feint, he was in reality employed
at Versailles. On his nomination, he said to the King, _Sire, I will do
all I can, but I beg your Majesty to believe that I cannot work

Marshal Saxe humorously said, _None but a saint or a devil can set the
French administration right_. This gave occasion to a courtier
afterwards to say, that we must be without friends, both in hell and
heaven; this so much warned saint or devil having not yet made his
appearance in France.

Marshal Belleisle, having driven the Austrians out of Provence, returned
to Versailles, to give the King an account of his operations. He had a
strange passion for signal projects; and he proposed several to his
Majesty, the least of which was to deliver Genoa, to make Spain mistress
of the greater part of Italy, and strip the King of Sardinia of all his
dominions, &c.

He was sent again to Provence, where the sum of his exploits amounted
only to the taking of the small castle of Saint Margaret’s island. A man
of genius was lately saying to me, that if good chimerical projects, and
imaginary plans, made a man great, M. Belleisle was indisputably the
greatest man in Europe.

In the mean time Holland, having created a Stadtholder, determined on
the continuance of the war. I saw that Lewis XV. was manifestly
affected with this news, whether from a concern for his people, or that
the elevation of the Prince of Orange disconcerted his projects. He said
in my presence to a courtier, _These Dutchmen are terrible folks; I wish
their republic was a thousand leagues from any of my frontiers; it gives
me more trouble than all the rest of Europe put together_.

France having now no hopes of bringing the United Provinces to a
neutrality, thought of invading them; and politicians said, that it was
the only way left to restore the balance in Europe, which had been lost
by the continual advantages of the English at sea.

Effectual measures were taken for the invasion. The King won the battle
of Lafeldt. At the same time it was determined to besiege
Bergen-op-Zoom. This expedition was committed to count Lowendahl, who
merrily promised to make a present of it to the King on St. Lewis’s day.
Bergen-op-Zoom was taken, which threw the Dutch into the greatest
consternation, as they had all imagined the carrying of that place to be
an impossibility. This event shewed, that in war there is no such thing
as certainty, its operations being ever subject to the caprice and
inconstancy of fortune.

The congress at Breda was removed to Aix-la-Chapelle; but the courts
still continued planning sieges and battles. Whilst the
plenipotentiaries were settling the preliminaries, the levies for fresh
troops went on with all possible vigour, and France prepared for war
more than ever; but the difficulty was to procure soldiers. It has been
affirmed to me, that there were large country-towns in France, which
could not furnish so much as one militia-man, so that it became
necessary to make the married men carry arms, though this was hurting
posterity. All manner of taxes and imposts were also contrived to supply
the want of money. M. Machault, comptroller-general, who had succeeded
M. Orry, proposed expedients, but all of a very destructive tendency.
The parliament clamoured, and openly declared in its representations,
that if all the edicts concerning the finances took place, as proposed,
the kingdom was undone; but it received for answer, that great evils
required great remedies; and this silenced it.

At length a way being opened into Holland, by taking of Bergen-op-Zoom,
and Marshal Saxe threatening to put an end to the republic; on the other
hand, the southern provinces of France being reduced to a starving
condition; this, with other circumstances, disposed the several powers
to sign preliminaries of peace, which was soon followed by a definitive
treaty. Such a situation of things promoted the public tranquility more
than all the studied harangues of the plenipotentiaries at

I had the treaty read to me at Versailles; all the articles appeared
very suitable to the present state of Europe, except that of Canada. It
seemed to me that the appointing commissioners to settle that great
affair, would only perplex it the more. I spoke of it to Marshal
Belleisle, who told me that article was a state secret: we could have
given it another turn, but this is best for us; it leaves things in
America as they are, and we have twenty Savage nations in Canada who
will revenge our loss. This revenge some years after cost us the game.

The Prince de Soubise told me some time after, that this peace had been
a child of necessity; that there was not one of all the signing Princes,
who could not have wished that the war had continued. Yet I can take
upon me to say, that the King of France was of a different mind. He was
visibly more gay than usual, and the great joy of his heart displayed
itself in his countenance.

Thus at length the public calamities were suspended. Genoa, which under
the Duke de Richelieu had continued to defend itself against the
Germans, grounded its arms. The Spaniards and French, after being in
continual action to settle Don Philip in Italy, discontinued their
operations; and it was agreed that every thing should remain quiet till
the publication of the definitive treaty. I longed for it more than any
minister in Europe. The King had no quiet; the concerns of his crown and
personal glory kept him in Flanders, and took up all his thoughts, never
returning to Versailles till the campaign was quite over. My private
satisfaction I could have willingly sacrificed to the happiness of the
state, but sieges and battles only encreased the public distresses.

New lotteries and new taxes were established to raise the means for
signing the peace; thus the public ease began with draining them to the
last drop.

The Pretender’s son, who seemed quite forgotten, now makes his
appearance again. Concluding, as he well might, that nobody would think
of him at the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle; he began by protesting
against every thing which should be done there. So little regard was
paid to the manifesto which he caused to be set up, that all parties
signed without minding his protestations. To this opposition he added
another still more extravagant at Paris, refusing to comply even with
the King’s express orders.

One of the first articles laid down between England and France, had
been, that the Chevalier de St. George’s son should quit the kingdom.
Lewis XV. several times signified to him the indispensable necessity he
was under of adhering to the agreement. Prince Edward plainly told those
who first mentioned the King’s pleasure to him, that he would not
comply. I have often heard the excuse he gave for this refractoriness.
_The King of France_, said he, _promised me that I should always find an
asylum in his dominions; for this I have his sign manual in my pocket. A
Prince who has a sense of honour, knows what obligations his word lays
him under, and how greatly he exposes himself in violating it._

He treated with the King of France as with a private gentleman. He
forgot that Sovereigns may fail in their word, without any breach in
their honour, the good of their people so requiring. The Pretender’s son
was taken into custody, as he was going to the opera. Strange reverse of
fortune! On his arrival in France, he had been received with great joy,
and marks of consideration. I was something concerned for this young
Prince’s fate, and dropped a word or two about him to the King, who
answered me with some heat, _What would you have me do, Madam? Should I
continue the war with all Europe for Prince Edward? England will not
allow him to be in my dominions; it was only on this condition, that she
came into the peace. Should I have broke off the conference at
Aix-la-Chapelle, and distressed my people more and more, because the
Pretender’s son is for living at Paris?_

It must be owned that this Prince shewed an obstinacy beyond example.
The King sent all Paris to represent to him the state of affairs, and
express the concern it gave him, that he was obliged to remove him from
his court. Though these messages were delivered to him in the King’s
name, his answers were so many menaces. The Count de Maurepas spoke to
him on this occasion, in the following words:

“It is with the greatest grief that the King sees himself obliged to
desire your Highness to quit his dominions. I come in his name to assure
you that no other consideration than the welfare of his subjects would
have prevailed on him to take this step. You would have seen him
inflexibly supporting your claim, had not the unhappy turn of the war
laid him under a necessity of yielding to the present juncture. The
greatest Monarchs cannot always do as they would. There are critical
seasons where policy requires them to be pliant. Your Highness knows
that; since the unhappy time when the Stuart family lost the crown of
England, the Bourbon family has made several efforts for their
restoration. You ought to take his intentions kindly, rather than blame
his inability. I wish you had been witness to his conversation with me,
when he called me into his closet to give me his orders, by which I was
to signify to you his desire that you will quit the kingdom; it must
have affected you. He sincerely laments your situation, but he cannot
turn the tide of fate; and should you force him to take violent
measures, it would give him the deepest concern.

“Lewis XV. has sent me to you, not as a King, not as a master, but as an
ally, and as a friend; and, what is more, he directed me to ask it of
you as a favour, that you would leave his dominions.”

Prince Edward was very laconic in his answer, drawing a pistol out of
his pocket, and vowing to shoot the first man that should offer to lay
hands on him. The archbishop of Paris likewise conjured him in the name
of God and the Pope, but with no greater effect; religion had no more
weight with him than politics, so that the extremity which the King
would have avoided, became necessary. The Chevalier de St. George’s son
was arrested as he was going to the opera.

The enemies of France failed not to exclaim against this violence,
exaggerating it with the most odious appellations.

On searching his house, it was found turned into an Arsenal. He had arms
enough to stand a siege in form. It was talked at court that he had
determined to fight singly himself against a whole regiment, and then
set fire to a barrel of powder, which communicated with others, and thus
blow up himself, with all that belonged to him. The King, on being told
this, said, “A very ill-timed bravery, indeed!”

The peace, however, spread an universal joy through all ranks. There
were only two men in the kingdom who were not satisfied with it, the
Marshals Saxe and Lowendahl. The former expressed his discontent to the
secretary of war in this manner: “After the battle of Fontenoy, said he,
we were in a fair way of making ourselves masters of Holland, and
putting an end to that troublesome republic; for these merchants, with
their shipping and their wealth, are the mischief-makers of Europe; they
are the necessary allies of our natural enemies the English. The great
work of their destruction was nearly finished; why did we not go through
with it? If we again give the republicans time to fortify themselves,
they will be as daring as before; and the time may come when France with
all its forces will not be able to bring them to reason. Destroying
Holland is cutting off England’s right arm; and every body knows, that
all France’s policy should center in weakening Great Britain.

“Of what consequence has the victory of Fontenoy been? What is France
the better for the taking of Bergen-op-Zoom? All those efforts of
courage, all the lives of so many gallant officers who fell in Flanders,
were purely thrown away. If these places were to be restored, and the
Dutch and the house of Austria to be put on the same footing as each of
them was before the war, it had been much better there had been no war
at all. France’s giving back its conquests, was making war against
herself; her very victories have ruined her; her enemies have retained
all their former strength, whilst she alone has weakened herself. Her
subjects are fewer by a million, and her finances reduced to little or

These speeches reaching the King’s ears, he said, “I understand the
language of those generalissimos; they are for ever dwelling on red-hot

The count de St. Severin d’Arragon, who had made the peace, undertook to
demonstrate the fallacy of such reasonings; and the King has often
repeated to me his arguments. “Sire, said he, the conquest of Holland
made no part of the plan of this war. All France aimed at, was to keep
the Dutch from declaring. The end of our many sieges and battles, was
not to destroy their republic, but only to bring it to pacific terms; so
that in forcing them to lay aside their arms, the council of state’s
view is fully answered.

“Your Generals will have it, that after the battle of Fontenoy, and the
taking of Bergen-op-Zoom, the United Provinces might easily have been
overrun, and the States-General have been brought under the dominion of
France. They are mistaken; the weapons of despair are invincible. To
compel a people to the necessity of being conquered, is the ready way to
lose a conquest. The sovereignties once settled, are no longer subject
to destruction; they are reciprocal counterpoizes; should only one fall
under the power of another, the whole balance of Europe would be
destroyed. It is long since war has afforded any of those decisive
blows, which, in the time of the Romans, changed the face of the
political world. A province may be mastered, but the invading of
kingdoms is out of date.

“Granting, Sir, that the ardour of your troops, breaking through the
common ways, had reduced Holland, it would have been a conquest not only
useless, but have thrown France into fresh troubles; all Europe, in a
body, would have declared war against you. The great powers, jealous of
the house of Bourbon, have long been watching an opportunity of giving
it a decisive blow.

“Right policy, instead of making a noise, silently takes a bye-way to
its ends; let us insensibly weaken the Dutch, but never think of
destroying them. They are a barrier against the great northern powers.
They secure us from the incursions of the Germans, whom the Romans
themselves could not check, and who at last overthrew the empire of the

“But a great deal is said about the easiness of our conquering, and not
a word how easy it was to conquer us. What induced me, Sire, to put the
finishing hand to the great work of the peace, is the disorder of the
finances, the depopulation of the state, and the scarcity of

“The Comptroller-general has acquainted me that he knows not where to
find any more money. The intendants of the provinces have wrote to the
war-office, that it is utterly impossible to raise another militia; to
which the intendant of Guienne adds, that in his province the people are
starving; those, Sire, were my motives for hastening the conclusion of
the peace.”

These reasons, however, did not prevail with the great men of the army,
who still wanted to be fighting. They were big with hopes, which the
peace seemed to quash. I remember Lewis XV. one day talking on this
subject, said to me, _that he had not a general officer in his troops
who cared what became of the state, if he could but get a Marshal’s

The King, who had rewarded Marshal Saxe, did not forget the Count St.
Severin, making him a minister of state. This Count, though not a great
genius, had good rational sense, which he made to answer as well as a
superior understanding. He was slow in business, but sure; and his
phlegmatic disposition was better adapted to surmount those
difficulties, which ever put fervid and eager minds to a full stand. He
was a stranger to agitations; his passions moved in subordination to
political laws. Resentment, anger, sallies of passion, spirit of party,
with all the other prepossessing foibles which ruled most ministers,
were never seen in him. Those he used to call the reverse of the medal
of plenipotentiaries. In a negociation he moved straight on to his
drift, without stopping by the way. He had a natural love for peace, and
thus the more chearfully applied himself to forward a definitive treaty.

M. de Belleisle told me, that he found one great fault in him, which was
the want of a proper regard to military men, however illustrious by
their rank or merit; for after all, added he, there is no making a good
peace but by dint of victories; and it is the general, and not the
plenipotentiary, who gains battles.

France however was quite spent; the means made use of for supporting the
war had been so violent as to break all the springs of power. The
ministers complained greatly of the state of France, and openly said, at
the peace, that they did not know where to begin the administration.

Paris is not the place where the general distress most manifests itself.
The luxury, such as it is, prevailing there conceals the public
indigence. There poverty itself appears in embroidery and ribbons,
whilst in all the other parts of France it goes quite bare. The court
had written into the provinces for a report of the state of things. M.
de Belleisle has shewn me several memoirs of those times, transmitted
to Versailles by the intendants of the provinces. The tenour of the
first way this:

          “MY LORD,

     “You ask me for a state of the finances in this province; that is
     soon done: there are none. I don’t believe that the whole province
     could produce a hundred thousand livres in specie: the poverty is
     so general, that all distinction of ranks is at an end. The louis
     d’ors are like to become scarce pieces, so as soon to be seen only
     in the cabinets of the curious.”

The other is from the intendant of a province naturally very fertile,
but which could not be cultivated for want of money. His report to the
minister was as follows:

          “MY LORD,

     “There is no representing to your Excellency the present distress
     of this province; the land yields little or nothing; most of the
     farmers, unable to live by the produce of their farms, have quitted
     them; some are gone a begging, others have lifted in the army, and
     not a few have escaped into foreign countries; the gentry and
     nobility are little better off, being put to the utmost difficulty
     to answer the taxes and impositions on them.

     “Of fifteen hundred thousand acres of arable land, which used to
     support this people, at present six hundred lie fallow; what a
     diminution this must be to the general subsistence, your Excellency
     readily sees. A village which, before the war, supported fifteen
     hundred inhabitants, can now scarce support six hundred; and a
     particular family, which was able to feed six children, and as many
     labourers, can now provide food only for five. The cattle are
     diminished no less than the men, so as not to be sufficient for
     tillage; and in most of the villages men do the work of oxen.

     “I have traced this calamity to its source, and I find the evil
     proceeds from the general want of cash: to prevent the consequences
     of this diminution, I could wish that the court would be pleased to
     advance to this province, by way of loan, the sum of fifteen
     hundred thousand livres, to be geometrically distributed among the
     industrious poor. This, in my opinion, is the only remedy left to
     avert greater evils.”

The third of these memoirs was from another intendant, who paints the
depopulation in these sad colours.

          “MY LORD,

     “The king’s subjects are daily decreasing in this province; it will
     soon be without inhabitants. Having directed the parish-priests to
     bring in lists of the christenings and burials, I find that the
     number of the dead exceeds that of the living; so that, should this
     depopulation go on twenty years longer, and God continues my life
     during that time, by my calculation, I shall be the only living
     creature, of the human species, in this province. Fifteen years
     before the last revolution of the finances, this district contained
     fifteen hundred thousand souls, and now if there are nine hundred
     thousand, it is the most. Yet how, my Lord, can it be otherwise? Of
     fifty of the king’s subjects, scarce two have any thing of a
     subsistence; the others must necessarily perish. A marriage is
     seldom heard of; so that all the new-born children are the fruits
     of debauchery.

     “I cannot point out any remedy to these distresses. In the present
     crisis of the monarchy, it is God alone who can rescue it out of
     the abyss into which the misfortunes of the times have cast it.”

The fourth was from a sea-port, whose deputy thus delivered himself
before the ministry.

“Trade, which had been declining for several years, is now fallen into a
total stagnation. Our ships lie in the harbours, useless both to the
state and their owners. We have little or nothing for exportation; the
produce of the country scarce affords a very scanty subsistence; and our
manufactures are at the lowest ebb. All our trade is in the hands of the
English and Dutch.

“Most of our monied men, who fitted out privateers, have been ruined by
the war; others so reduced, that instead of ten ships, which they used
to have at sea, they find it difficult to have one: both seas are
covered with foreign fleets, so that the white flag begins to be

“All other nations are carriers to France, whereas France carries for
none. This general stagnation animates others, and throws our marine
into a fatal lethargy, &c. &c. &c.”

The navy has been utterly ruined, all the ships being taken by the
English, except a few unserviceable ones in the harbours; and the funds
appointed for fitting out a fleet are exhausted; but had there been no
want of money, seamen were wanting; most of them had died in English
prisons, and they who escaped the enemy perished by distress. It was
impossible for France, being thinned of men, to furnish seamen.

M. Belleisle, who interfered in every branch of government, said one day
to the King, in my hearing, _Sire, should all the powers of Europe
declare war against you, I engage to raise in your dominions a hundred
and fifty thousand soldiers, who should keep them all at bay; but were I
to fight an English fleet of a hundred ships of the line, where I
should get twenty thousand seamen, I know not_.

Another misfortune, beyond any remedy, was the necessary reduction of
the troops. A hundred and fifty thousand subjects, who had fought for
the crown, at the peace came to want bread: most of them, though they
had been husbandmen before the war, were now no longer so. I have
several times heard the Marshal de Noailles say, that a countryman,
leaving the plough for the musket, is very seldom known to take to it
when discharged; and he used to add, that on a hundred thousand
husbandmen quitting their labour, a hundred thousand others must labour
to provide them bread, otherwise a famine, and the ruin of the state,
must be the consequence.

Some regulations were made to prevent the disorders to be apprehended
from these reduced troops; but the remedy was more dangerous than the

Of all the incumbrances, that of the military rewards were the greatest;
money was required to pay the bravery of the officers in ready cash, for
the military gentlemen are most impatient creditors. Formerly a St.
Lewis’s cross sufficed, but it has since appeared to the officers, that
a yearly sum gives a greater lustre to gallant actions.

Above ten thousand different pensions were settled on the Exchequer. A
churchman who, at my desire, used sometimes to read to me the memorials
on this head delivered to me for the king, would often say, that the
glory accompanying fine actions must be of very little value in France,
as the gentlemen of the army would not take it for a reward. The
archbishop of Paris likewise used to say, that victories cost the state
more than defeats.

The claimants would set forth their services with an arrogant modesty,
which gave great offence to the court; especially they who had lost a
limb were quite insupportable. One of these gentlemen (it was indeed
after several journies to court to obtain a pension) said to me before
several foreign ministers, _Madam, since the King cannot give me an arm,
which I have lost in his service, he should at least give me money_.

Once an officer being come express with the news of the loss of a battle
in Germany, the king said, _Thank God, this time I shan’t be teazed
about rewards_. He was mistaken; for fifteen hundred officers, who had
escaped the slaughter, came to Versailles, clamouring to be paid only
for the great service of their being present at that action.

A lieutenant of grenadiers, to whom the secretary at war had procured a
Saint Lewis’s cross without a pension, said to him, _Sir, your
Excellency has tied to my button-hole the sign of my courage, but you
have forgot the reality of my bravery_, meaning that he wanted a

Some military men in France enjoy considerable incomes only for having
been in five or six battles, whilst the subjects of the state have
ruined themselves in defraying the expences of the war. Thus do abuses
creep into the best foundations.

After settling the pensions, the next thing taken in hand was to
retrieve the finances from the terrible disorder into which they were
fallen. They who understood the history of France affirmed, that for
twenty reigns past the kingdom had never been so distressed; and the
national debt being immense, a plan for the discharge of them became
absolutely necessary. A sinking fund was projected, but when funds were
to be appointed for the sinking-fund, those of the crown were found to
be all mortgaged. I myself was a witness to his majesty’s great
uneasiness, when the ministers and counsellors of state laid open to him
the condition of things. _Gentlemen_, said he to them, _you had better
have advised me against the war, than to make it on such burthensome
conditions_. Some taxes were taken off; but several imposts, created for
the charges of the war, were continued after the peace, &c. &c.

Such was the situation of France after the definitive treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle. The domestic affairs of the crown were in no better
condition. The ministers had, during the war, assumed an unlimited
authority, made themselves despotic in their offices, and behaved
towards the subjects with that austerity which is the result of
uncontrouled power.

Whilst all Europe was congratulating itself on the general peace, advice
came to Versailles that the English were very angry with George the
Second, for having agreed to the French proposals. The parliament
addressed him for a copy of the overtures for a general pacification, to
be laid before the house.

Marshal Saxe being present when this was related to the king, said,
_Sir, those Englishmen must be very quarrelsome; they have made a peace
with us, and having now no enemy, they are for quarrelling with their
King_. I have heard very knowing politicians say, that the divisions in
Great Britain between the subjects and the Prince, are the basis of the
general tranquillity of Europe.

However, on the peace, the face of Versailles was quite changed; that
solicitous look which throws a shade even on diversions was quite
vanished; the hurry of business had ceased, and the king was now come to
himself. This tranquility of the court caused a great agitation in the
city; several women began to form designs on the King’s heart.

Among these was one Madame la Poupeliniere, married to a financier, who
had raised her from the dirt, from whence he himself likewise sprung.
They had a most delightful and splendid seat at Passy, which was always
crowded with the worst company.

I have been often told, that this woman would faint away whenever my
name happened to be mentioned. She used to say, that I had thrust myself
into her rank at court, that I held her place about the king, and that
all the honours paid to me at Versailles, of right belonged to her. She
would, at any rate, be Lewis the Fifteenth’s mistress.

This was a scheme put into her head by the Duke de Richelieu; mean time
he practised on her heart, to give it a turn for tenderness. This
intrigue was carried on with an air of mystery. The Duke used, at
nights, to convey himself into the lady’s chamber through an opening
contrived in the chimney; and this opening Richelieu assured her should,
in no long time, conduct her to the little apartments of Versailles. In
the interim, this creature, to make herself more worthy of the
Sovereign, prostituted herself to one of his subjects; but a
chambermaid, in a fit of resentment, discovered the whole mystery. The
financier, who had for some time wanted to get rid of his wife, gladly
embraced this opportunity; he made the public witness to his infamy, so
that all Paris flocked to see the ungrateful perfidy of this ambitious

The gallant perhaps, now no less satiated than the husband, made very
light of the discovery; and came to Versailles, not imagining that the
court as yet knew any thing of the matter; but I had intelligence of his
adventure an hour before it was made public. The King was alone in my
apartment when he came in; _Sir_, (said I to him) _there is not in all
Europe a more close agent in amorous intrigues than his Grace of
Richelieu there before you; for to be the more secret with the ladies
whom he would bring acquainted with your Majesty, he visits them through
the chimney_. The King asked me what I meant; I immediately unfolded the
riddle to him, which set us a laughing, and Richelieu himself laughed as
much as any.

Other women likewise laid out for the little apartments at Versailles,
and got into them without going under ground. Lewis XV. was very fond of
these flighty amours, of which possession is both the beginning and end.
But his humours did not in the least abate the affection with which he
honoured me, always returning to me more constant than ever.

Since the peace, the Count de Maurepas took a pleasure in censuring
every thing that was done at court, and giving it a ridiculous turn.
This minister had his private suppers like the King himself; and here it
was where, every night, the crown was turned into drollery.

Several disputes had passed between us since my living at Versailles,
and in which he had used me with much pride and haughtiness; his passion
made him forget his rank, and use words quite unbecoming such a man as
he. I slightly intimated it to the King, being unwilling to hurt a man
who was of use to the state.

It has been given out, that my very first design on my coming to
Versailles was to supplant this minister. Now that such a thought should
have come into my mind, is not possible. The King, in giving me a
character of his chief ministers, spoke with great approbation of the
Count de Maurepas, which alone was sufficient to make me take a liking
to him. But a close assiduity in dry and difficult affairs, for above
thirty years successively, had extremely soured his temper, so that at
times no body durst go near him. M. le Guai, his first clerk, told me,
that in those moments he was bristled like a porcupine; his harshness
infected his correspondence, scolding those who were a thousand leagues
from him, and treating them without any regard to their rank and
character. He wrote to the French consul, at one of the Levant ports, in
the following manner:

     “I order you, Sir, to write to me no more, but repair to France in
     the first ship; and come to Paris, where you are to wait my orders,
     without appearing at court.

I am, &c.”

His caustic temper mingled itself even with his feasts, and would break
out even in the midst of pleasure and sociality. It was in these parties
that he was most fluent and licentious in satire. I was one day
informed, that he had spoken against me in very indecent terms, and had
even brought in the King. I at first determined flatly to complain to
his Majesty, but on reflection I chose to write to himself.

     “_Sir, I am informed of your scandalous speeches concerning me, and
     even the King your master. As for what you say of me, it gives me
     no manner of concern; but I cannot overlook any scurrility on the
     King. I value his reputation; and be assured, that if you do not
     alter your behaviour toward him, I shall lay it before him, and you
     must expect the punishment which such an offence deserves._

_I am, &c._”

All the effect of this letter was, that it increased his malignity
towards me, saying to those who were at supper with him; _Now,
Gentlemen, my disgrace is surely at hand, Pompadour threatens me_: then,
reassuming his gravity, he added, by way of reflection, _See what
Versailles is come to_; _the very women of pleasure pretend to domineer
there_. These words were precisely reported to me; however, I took no
notice of them; but some time after, this minister, amidst his cups,
sang some scandalous couplets against the King himself, and before a
great deal of company. Of this insolence I informed his Majesty, and he
was ordered to quit the court.

His exile making a great noise in the world, and a construction being
put on it which affected his probity and character, I begged of the King
to declare in public, that he was satisfied with his conduct. His
Majesty did so; and let this serve as a specimen of his temper; a
prince, after being insolently ridiculed by a subject who owed him great
obligations, still vouchsafed to shew tenderness for him.

The government was at a loss for a person fit to succeed M. Maurepas at
the head of the marine, as now it was become a state mystery. It had
been under Maurepas’s sole management during thirty years. M. Rouillé
was pitched on, though no great genius; but he had formed specious
plans, and assured the King that within three years he should have a
navy of fourscore ships of the line. _I wish_, said the King, _he may
make his words good, but I much fear he will fall very short_.

Italy was perfectly at ease; the infant Don Philip had made his entrance
into Parma: we heard at Versailles that he lived very gaily there amid
concerts, plays, and balls. _I am afraid_, said the King, _that young
Prince is too fond of balls, and my daughter will be perpetually

M. de Noailles used to say, that _every country dance of Don Philip, in
Italy, cost Spain a hundred thousand livres; and his mother had paid the
fiddlers before-hand_.

The Duke of Modena was restored to his dominions, and had all Don
Philip’s passion for splendour and entertainments; but the war had
ruined him: the Duchess used to say openly, in the palace, _his Highness
has not wherewith to make one single minuet step_. She came to court
without shoes, to shew the King the indigence to which the war had
reduced their duchy. _Madam_, said his Majesty to her, _I am not in a
much better condition myself; but I have a shoe-maker, who, if you
please, shall wait on you_.

Genoa was free, subject only to its own government, now re-established
on its ancient footing. The ambassador from the court of Vienna, meeting
that senate’s envoy in the great gallery of Versailles, said to him;
_Sir, the house of Austria forgives your republic its revolution, only
intends to be up with it_.

Rome was at rest, the foreign armies which, during the war, had been
such a burden and terror to it, being withdrawn.

Naples, now no longer under a necessity of exhausting itself of men and
money, was beginning to recover: all it stood in need of, was only quiet
enjoyment of its fertile soil and climate. Concerning this small state,
I remember a foreign minister once said to me, that _if ever he had been
so ambitious as to aim at a sovereignty, it would not be that of
Germany, France, or Spain, but to be King of Naples_. His reason was,
that _there the power was derived directly from heaven; and is the
immediate gift of God the Father himself_.

The nobility still complained at court of having greatly hurt their
fortunes in the war, and were continually solliciting compensations and

The Prince of Conti, lately created Grand Prior of France, said openly,
that his horses had no hay. _I wonder_, said Marshal Belleisle, _they
are not yet dead, for so long ago as when we were at Coni, his Highness
used to complain of the scarcity of forage_.

Lewis XV. did all he could to repair the fortunes of the great by posts,
pensions, or governments; but he had a greater concern on his hands,
which was to repair that of the nation.

I remember once he mildly said to some, who were unbecomingly urgent,
that he would take care of them; _Have a little patience, I will provide
for all as far as possible; but before I attend to private houses, the
great family of the state must be provided for_. Another time he said,
before the whole court, to a groupe of officers who talked much of their
campaigns, and asked rewards: _Gentlemen, you have indeed done me great
services in the war, but it is my desire you will do me still a greater
in peace, which is to allow me first to ease those who have borne the
whole weight of the war. You only lent a hand_, _but they have
exhausted their whole substance in it_, &c. &c.

Marshal Belleisle was not overlooked; besides pensions, ranks, and
honours heaped on him, all the bodies of the state, as it were, strove
which should pay him the greatest marks of respect. The French Academy
itself, on his leaving Paris to go to his government, composed a formal
harangue, proving him the deliverer of France. A man of wit has called
the members of the French academy _the most elegant liars in Europe_.

The new naval minister was busily searching for timber, seamen, and
money, all over the provinces; but he looked for what was not to be
found. On his return to Versailles, appeared the following memorial, by
an unknown hand.

                        MEMORIAL on the MARINE.

“FRANCE should not think of forming a navy gradually; such a plan is
impracticable; for the English, who have an eye to the building of
every ship we put on the stocks, and build additional ships in
proportion, thereby always secure a superiority.

“Thus Great Britain having, at present, a hundred ships of the line more
than France, will consequently always exceed us by that number, were we
to build three hundred ships of war within ten years.

“We have often set about forming a navy, but our endeavours have always
been defeated by the Britons. They have taken our ships in times of
profound peace, and declared themselves our enemies by sea, before any
war had commenced; their vigilance in preventing any thing which might
affect the superiority of their navy, pays no regard to justice or good
faith. A King of England would be immediately dethroned by his subjects,
should he be for adhering to the treaties made with France. It is a
tacit maxim with that nation, that a treaty is to subsist only whilst
France builds no ships.

“Time, which to all other disorders of government brings a remedy, here
renders the disease incurable: building therefore is too slow a way;
they know at London the very day when any ship of war is finished, and
when to be launched.

“This part of political strength must be formed at once, and unknown to
the admiralty of England. We should without delay apply to Holland,
Denmark, the republic of Genoa, and Venice; and there, at once, purchase
a proper number of ships; and if those states cannot fully supply us,
there is Malta, Algiers, Tripoli, Constantinople, &c. No matter from
what nation we have ships, or how they are built, if they will but hold
men and guns.

“Herein the strictest secrecy must be observed, and the purchases all
punctually made at one and the same appointed time; for should the
English get any intelligence of our design, they would either by open
force, or negotiation, prevent any such purchase.

“The want of seamen still remains; but here again we may supply
ourselves by the same method. In time of peace, the Maritime powers have
a great many more seamen than they want; it is only making good offers
to those men; for the sailor, like the soldier, is for the best bidder;
his natural Prince is money, &c. &c.”

M. Rouillé, on reading this memorial, said, _The author has forgot the
main thing, money. He would have us purchase a navy all at once, but
does not provide wherewith to pay for it at once_.

A statesman has often observed, that most of the projects offered at the
court of France are deficient in the very foundation. The schemer writes
on in prosecution of his notions, till meeting a rock, when all his
specious reasonings are wrecked.

M. de Belleisle told me that, in his closet, he had hundreds of memoirs
for increasing the revenue and the national wealth, inscribed to him by
the finest genius’s of the kingdom; and that he might perhaps publish
them with this title, _A collection of very fine, and very useless
projects_. “Idle people, said he, often have thoughts which the business
of placemen does not allow them to have:” and added, “that though
memorial writers do not always make good their points, yet their
strictures often put others on effectual improvements.”

After the peace, the King had sent the Duke de Mirepoix to London: on
which Marshal Saxe said, that this nobleman was perfectly fit for the
embassy, having a very handsome leg, and dancing prettily, which might
be of good consequence in a court which delighted in balls. The reasons
which induced the King to this choice, have always been unknown to me.
He never so much as mentioned it to me till it was done. A very
intelligent man, whom the king had often employed in state affairs, said
to me, at that time, “that M. de Mirepoix was neither supple nor
complaisant enough for the English; neither was he sufficiently
acquainted with the respective interests of the two nations: besides,
continued he, he has a great defect for an ambassador, he is too honest,
so that the English will impose on him.” He might perhaps have added,
with equal truth, that he had not a capacity equal to that employment.
M. de Mirepoix had spent his youth in diversions, and the latter part of
his life in war; now the science of negotiation is not learnt either at
the play-house or in the camp.

This minister’s constant note was, that the court of St. James’s was
perfectly pleased with the peace, and all its thoughts turned on the
enjoyment of it. He indeed wrote no more than he believed; for George
the Second made him believe whatever he pleased.

The English minister at Paris was my Lord Albemarle, like ours, no great
negociator. He had been taught his lesson by heart before he left
London, and when at Versailles only repeated it. On any representation
of the court of France being informed that the British court was making
military preparations, he answered, that it was a mistake. This M. de
Puisieux was continually saying to him, and his answer was ever the
same. English policy is much more easy than the French, having but one
path; so that when once a British minister has got into it, he need but
go straight on.

I saw this minister sometimes; he spoke our language better than common,
and expressed himself even with energy. He loved expence, and lived
nobleman-like, but he appeared to me to have one fault, though indeed it
is common to all the English; his very prodigalities had somthing of
parsimony in them. George the Second, who had a great kindness for him,
supplied his expences; for though he lived so high, he was very poor: an
Englishman, who had known him at London, speaking of his arrival at
Paris, said, “My Lord will get a mistress there, run in debt, and die by
some accident.” The prophecy was fully accomplished: He lived with a
girl, borrowed large sums, and died suddenly.

Lewis XV. was more constantly with me than ever; I had brought him to a
custom of seeing me every day, and never spending less than five or six
hours in my apartment: I accompanied him in all the journies, and had my
apartments in all the royal seats. The more I became acquainted with his
Majesty, the more I perceived the exceeding goodness of his heart.

My husband loudly complained of my living at Versailles, and wrote to me
a very passionate letter, full of reproaches against me, and still more
against the King; amidst other indiscreet terms, calling him tyrant. As
I was reading this letter, the King came into my apartment; I
immediately thrust it into my pocket; the emotion with which I received
his Majesty, shewed me to be under some disorder; I was for concealing
the cause, but on his repeated instances, I put my husband’s letter into
his hands. He read it through without the least sign of resentment: I
assured him that I had no share in his temerity; and the better to
convince him of it, desired that he would punish the writer severely.
_No, Madam_, said he to me, with that air of goodness which is so
natural to him, _your husband is unhappy, and should rather be pitied_.
History does not afford a like passage of moderation in an injured King.
My spouse, on being informed of it, left the kingdom to travel.

Though the peace had diffused quiet through Europe, it caused violent
agitations in the political bodies of France. The parliament of Paris,
amidst its many remonstrances to Lewis XV. exhorted him in a very fine
speech, to take off the _twentieth denier_. The deputies of that body
expressed themselves in this manner:

_So many millions of men now in indigence, stand in need of immediate
ease and relief; whereas, should they be still obliged to pay the
twentieth denier, they will be quite unable to lift up their heads
again, and repair their shattered fortune, and hence a general

_Whole families will be reduced to the most dreadful distress, and thus
be afraid of leaving behind them a numerous issue, which would be a
burden to them whilst living, and to whom they can transmit no other
inheritance than their wretchedness._

_The number of children, who are the hope and support of the state, will
be continually decreasing, the villages will be thinned, trade languish,
and the culture of land in a great measure at a stand. The ruin of the
farmers will necessarily be followed by that of the nobility, as their
estates will suffer a very considerable diminution; and thus these
people, and that brave nobility, whose valour is their soul and chief
resource, will be involved in one common ruin._

Count Saxe used to call the deputies of the parliament the great-chamber
pedants. _They are for teaching the administration_, says he, _what it
knows better than themselves. They are always harping on the distempers
of the state, without any word of a remedy._ Once, as the first
president was delivering a pathetic harangue before the King, proving
the necessity of lessening the weight of the taxes, his Majesty cut him
short with these words: _Mr. President, let but the parliament enable me
to pay off the state debts, and defray the present expences of the
Monarchy, and very readily will I abolish every, tax, duty, and impost._

A man of wit, and who knows the French temper, used to say, that these
useless representations were become necessary, as keeping up the
people’s spirits, who, without a declared Protector, would think
themselves for ever undone.

In Cardinal de Fleury’s indolent ministry, and the subsequent wars, the
government had not been able to take into consideration an abuse which
manifestly tended to dispeople the monarchy. Religion, in all wise
governments, a source of population, was thinning the human species. All
France was mouldering away in convents: every town and village had
numerous communities of girls, who made vows against having children.
The following letter, which I received from a nun at Lyons, and
communicated to the King, occasioned deliberations for reforming this


     “I was at first for writing to the Pope, but, on farther
     reflection, I thought it would be full as well to apply to you. The
     point is this: when I was but seven years of age, my parents shut
     me up in the convent where I now am; and on my entering into my
     fifteenth year, two nuns signified to me an order to take the veil.
     I deferred complying for some time; for though quite a stranger to
     every thing but the house I was in, yet I suspected there must be
     another kind of world than the convent, and another state than that
     of a nun; but the sister of _Jesus’s heart_, our mother, in order
     to fix my call, said to me, that all women who married were damned,
     because they lie with a man, and bore children: this set me
     a-crying most bitterly for my poor mother, as burning eternally in
     hell for having brought me into the world.

     “I took the veil; but now that I am twenty years of age, and my
     constitution formed, I daily feel that I am not made for this
     state, and think I want something; and that something, or I am much
     mistaken, is a husband.

     “My talking continually of matrimony sets the community a-madding;
     the sister of the _Holy Ghost_ tells me, that I am Jesus Christ’s
     spouse; but, for my part, I feel myself much inclined to a second
     marriage with a man.

     “On a young girl’s coming into a convent, half a dozen wheedlers
     get about her, and never leave her till they have persuaded her to
     take the veil. Children are buried every day in monasteries, whilst
     their early age does not admit of any solid reflections on the vows
     they are drawn to make.

     “Let me intreat you, Madam, to persuade the King to reform this
     abuse; it is a reformation which both religion and the prosperity
     of the state call for. The sacrificing so many victims to the
     avarice of parents, is a great loss of people to the state, and the
     kingdom of heaven is not the fuller. God requires voluntary
     sacrifices, and these are the fruit of reflection. It is
     surprising, that the laws, in settling the age for our sex’s
     passing a civil contract, should forget the age for making vows:
     is reason less necessary for contracting with God, than with men?
     This I submit to yours and his Majesty’s reflections: in the mean
     time, give me leave to be,


Your most humble servant,

Sister JOSEPH.”

The King thought that sister _Jesus’s heart_, and sister _Holy Ghost_,
had done wrong in drawing sister Joseph into the state of celibacy, as
with such happy dispositions for marriage, she bid fair to have been a
fruitful mother, and thus have benefited the state.

To suppress the aforesaid abuse, his Majesty issued an arret, forbidding
all religious communities to admit a novice under twenty-four years of
age and a day.

Other bodies, besides the parliament, continued setting forth to the
court the impossibility the people were under of paying the _twentieth
denier_. The states of Languedoc, with a peremptory kind of humility,
represented that it was a load the province could by no means bear: the
bishops, who usually employ their pens only in mandates, now wrote
memorials on the public distress. The King ordered them not to meddle
with money matters, and dissolved the assembly. The Duke de Richelieu,
who was then at Montpellier, seconded the court’s injunctions, and
restrained the bishops pens as much as he could.

On being thus debarred from writing or meeting, they appointed an
extraordinary deputation to lay before the King the condition of the
kingdom. They were admitted to audience; they made their speech,
returned home, and the _twentieth denier_ was levied.

A minister of state used frequently to say, that these representations
only increased the public charges. Were the provinces to pay at first,
they would save themselves the no small expences of journies,
correspondencies, and deputations, not to mention monopolies, which, on
these occasions, are unavoidable.

The states of Bretagne likewise offered their difficulties; but all the
effect of the representations of both was, that the court appointed two
intendants of the finances to go and settle the levying of that tax on
those refractory provinces.

These dictatorial proceedings of the states led the council to take
their meetings into consideration; and, for some days, it was
deliberated, whether they should not be totally laid aside. A counsellor
of state, who was for the dissolution, drew up a memorial, which the
King was pleased to communicate to me. This piece having never been
printed, consequently not known to the public, I shall give it a place

“The provincial states are of no use to France; such assemblies might
have been necessary in those times, when each province formed a separate
kingdom; but France being now united under one single government, can
regulate its concerns sufficiently for itself, without any need of

“These provincial states only keep a division between the Prince and the
subject, and are an obstacle to the expeditious levying and collecting
of the imposts.

“On his Majesty’s ordering a tax, however necessary it be, to defray the
extraordinary expences, these states are sure to oppose it; and
immediately the court is deluged with remonstrances, and Versailles
crowded with deputies: the general affairs must be delayed to issue
fresh orders, and answer those sent by the states, for their writings
are rather orders than memorials.

“This suspension of ordinances has other very bad effects; the subjects,
become accustomed not to obey, look on the wants of the state with the
coldest indifference, and the public affairs go on heavily.

“The members of these assemblies are like so many petty sovereigns;
their ascendency over the minds of the people being without bounds. An
Archbishop of Narbonne, on his coming to Montpellier to open the states,
is received with greater pomp than if Lewis XV. was to make his public

“In a monarchical state, where the whole authority should proceed only
from one centre, it is dangerous to divide it by subordinate bodies.

“These provincial states likewise affect morality and religion; those of
Languedoc consist of twenty-four bishops, or archbishops, who thus are
absent from their dioceses three months out of the twelve; leaving in
their stead their vicars, who have neither the like regard or zeal for
their flock; and in this interval, a relaxation in discipline and
manners spreads every where.

“The luxury of these assemblies is equally scandalous, every bishop
there having his court and courtiers, and keeping open table. Today the
bishop of Alaix has thirty covers on his table; and to-morrow my Lord of
Nismes gives an entertainment, to which fifty persons of distinction are
invited; and so on.

“The dissolution of the states will be attended with no diminution in
the finances. The free gift, which is the principal business of these
assemblies, may be regulated like a common tax levied from year to

The door of the provincial states being thus shut up, that of the
assembly of the clergy immediately burst open: it was still the same
object, but here discussed in great.

The business, as in the other assemblies, was the _twentieth denier_,
and the free gift: though this body, whenever called on by the King,
pleads indigence, yet it knows that it is so far accounted rich, that
all its studied speeches, on those occasions, cannot bring the public to
think it poor.

It endeavours therefore to compound with the King, and this time offered
seven millions and a half to be exempted from the impost. I have heard a
person, very well skilled in such affairs, say, that the clergy should
not be allowed to compound for taxes; but that if any composition were
to be admitted, it ought to be with the commonalty; which, as being most
burthened, should be preferred before all the other bodies put

The affairs of the closet did not interrupt the court entertainments:
the King hunted as usual, came to the plays, and every day supped with
me in the little apartments. A tender and affectionate friendship now
closely united us; desire was superseded by a calm inclination; the
friend had succeeded the mistress; our hearts glowed with all the
complacency arising from passions, without any of the disagreeable
circumstances accompanying them. Several women had inspired Lewis XV.
with love, but not one had he met with of a turn to make him feel the
delights of friendship, which a generous soul will always prefer. The
former is a commerce of pleasures, the gratification of which is almost
ever followed by disgust: the second is a mild settled delight, resident
in the mind, and if it does not minister any relish to the senses, is
more lasting, lively, and refined. The King himself, at this time,
assured me, that had he at first felt the delights of friendship, he
should never have given himself up to those of love. All passion was now
subsided in him; for this name is not to be given to those desultory
gallantries, when the constitution only prompts to pleasure, without any
concurrence of the heart.

This excellent Prince often said to me, that he was happy in having a
real friend, to whom he could communicate his satisfactions and his
troubles, for kings have theirs like other men; one of his greatest was
the distresses of the people, and the impossibility of relieving them so
speedily as he could have wished. He laid open to me the whole state of
his mind, without any reserved secrets; all his heart was as well known
to me as my own: it was an uneasiness for us to part, and we always met
again with redoubled pleasure.

The King, as I said in the beginning of these Memoirs, had, soon after
my first appearance at court, made me Marchioness de Pompadour; and,
that I might remain there with the greater decency, created me _a Lady
of the palace_. This new place should have convinced all Europe, that
there was no other commerce between his Majesty and me than what arose
from esteem and friendship. But ill-nature pursues its point, regardless
of all probabilities; and the state-malcontents picked out this passage
of my life to mangle my reputation, &c.

To return to politics: business went on at Versailles with great
dispatch, that the King might the sooner have the satisfaction he so
passionately desired, of diminishing the imposts, and making his people
enjoy the benefits of peace.

The marine was the principal point in view: M. Rouillé had hastily got
together a little fleet, which, putting to sea, gave no small umbrage to
the English. The British nation, with all its natural composure, is all
in flames at the bare mention of a French navy: concerning this, I
remember a jest at that time, _that the Britons could not close their
eyes since France had an eye to its maritime concerns; and that were we
to build a hundred ships of the line, not a soul in England would have
any sleep_.

This navy, however, was but a-beginning, and far short of what was
intended. Yet could England ask France, “what was the destination of
these ships?” M. de Puisieux gave my Lord Albemarle for answer, “that
the King of France was not accountable to any power in Europe; that
France was at peace with Great Britain; and that, consequently, the
latter had nothing to apprehend from those ships.”

The court of St. James’s seemed satisfied; yet more closely watched our

The government’s attention was for some time taken up with books; the
French, than whom perhaps no people in Europe are more restrained in
their speeches, sillily affect to be the first in their thoughts. They
print their notions on what comes uppermost, and the government is ever
the first thing to fall under their pen. It is said that this
licentiousness is owing to the above restraint; and I have heard that
were not so many authors sent to the Bastile, Paris would not swarm with
them as it does.

Very few of these seditious writings will bear reading, some of them are
not so much as worth a _lettre de cachet_. To make the authors of mere
trash the King’s pensioners, is doing them too much honour.

Though the assembly of the clergy granted every thing required, it did
not give every thing. On which the court sent a remonstrance to that
body, which it answered with another remonstrance; but herein it so
little observed the bounds of moderation, that the King dissolved the
assembly, and confined the bishops to their dioceses. The next day a
courtier said in the King’s anti-chamber, “that they ought to be sent
out of the kingdom, and priests put in their places:” this act of
prerogative so humbled the prelates, that they offered to comply with
all his Majesty’s pleasure.

A nobleman said to the King, _Sir, if your Majesty will be no more
troubled with the clergy’s remonstrances, a sure way will be, to forbid
the bishops coming to Paris; they will assent to the free gifts, or to
any terms, only allow them to live there_.

However, this affair of the bishops disturbed the King; and one day he
said to me, with some emotion, _They are perpetually vexing me. No
sooner have I raised a poor ecclesiastic to a dignity of a hundred
thousand livres a year, than he sets up for a leading man among the
clergy, and votes against the free gift. Sir_, said I to him, _methinks
there is a way of satisfying all. The crown should, on the death of the
present possessor, appropriate to itself half of the revenue of the
larger benefices. This would be no tax on any one. There is not a
subject in France, designed for the church, who would not think himself
under the highest obligations to your Majesty, in conferring on him an
abbey, or a bishopric, with a revenue less, by half, than what the
present possessor makes of it. I take upon me to bring about the
composition; I make no doubt but that I shall find, in the kingdom, two
hundred ecclesiastics, who will gladly set their hands to such an

_This diminution cannot be accounted unjust, your Majesty having the
nomination to all the large benefices in the kingdom; and the giver is
always master of his gifts. No complaint lies against a Prince, who,
instead of a hundred and twenty thousand livres a year, which he can
bestow on one of his subjects, gives him sixty thousand, &c. &c._

These few words, spoken only cursorily, were, a few days after, followed
by an express memorial addressed to the Count de St. Florentine, and
which he presented to the King.


               On the inequality of the taxes raised on
                              the Clergy.

“It is a received maxim in economics, that a geometrical equality in the
levying of taxes lessens the weight of them. A burden borne by all the
members of a body is always light.

“The uneasiness of the clergy concerning the free-gift, and other
impositions, towards answering the necessities of the state, proceeds
not so much from the impositions, as from the assessments. The
dignitaries, who should pay the most, always pay the least, considering
their incomes. The whole load falls on the poor parish priests, and
other country incumbents, who have scarce a subsistence, and are more
burthened as clergymen than as subjects.

“That the assembly of the bishops tax themselves, and the whole
ecclesiastical body, is not a privilege belonging to the clergy, but a
mere indulgence of the Kings of France, granted then with a proviso,
that the assessments should be equitable, and that the inferior priests,
who are the King’s subjects no less than the greater ecclesiastics,
should not be overcharged.

“The tax is rated by the income, which is an iniquitous assessment: a
priest with only a hundred crowns a year, paying a crown, in effect, is
rated much higher than a bishop, who, with a hundred thousand livres a
year, pays a thousand: a yearly income of ninety-nine thousand livres
being ever more or less superfluous; whereas he who has only a hundred
crowns, by being deprived of one, must feel it in the very necessaries
of life.

“The inferior clergy are the King’s subjects equally with the higher. To
allow the bishops to tax priests, because they are subordinate to them,
is a manifest error in government, the spiritual power having no claims
in temporals. The imposition and assessments of taxes appertains to the
crown, the mitre has nothing to do in it.

“The whole body of the clergy should be taxed once for all, like the
body of the laity: what tax the clergy can pay may be easily known; it
is only taking an account of the several sums which the clergy has paid
for these last twenty years; the twentieth part of the amount will be a
fair yearly tax, as in twenty years an exact calculation may be made of
the periodical wants of the state. In this interval, all the revolutions
may be reduced to a general sum.

“It may be left to the clergy’s choice to pay the tax, without holding
an assembly: this might be done by a tarif on the large and small
dignities and benefices, or the tax might be levied by the King’s
officers, as on the other subjects of the state.

“The latter most comports with the dignity of the crown, and will
likewise be more advantageous. As the church is daily making
acquisitions, and its general opulence is continually increasing by
donations, the clergy’s payments should be raised in proportion to
their aggrandizement.

“This rise of the clergy’s tax would be no more than what takes place in
the common imposts. Artificers and tradespeople pay more in proportion
to their thriving, though this be by their own labour and industry.”

The American affairs, of which not a word had been heard since the peace
of Aix-la-Chapelle, now began to employ the court’s attention. The
English complained, by their ambassador, my Lord Albemarle, that the
French countenanced the Indians in their practices, and, underhand
instigated them to molest their settlement in Nova Scotia. M. de
Puisieux told the British minister, that the people at London were
mistaken; “The court of France, said he, knows nothing of this supposed
instigation; and, very probably, it exists only in the suspicious minds
of the English.”

However, the first sparks of that fire, which was to kindle the war a
fresh, already began to appear. Advice came from Canada, that the
Indians were in motion; and though the cabinet of Versailles did not
give direct orders to the French to oppose any such motion, neither did
it tell them not to do so. This silence left the commanders to guess how
they were to act; accordingly, they did not declare openly, but let
second causes take their course.

A minister of a foreign court, formerly allied with France, and who, at
that time, was frequently with M. de Puisieux, put into his hands a
memorial on this head, which the King never saw, and it was not till
long after that I read it.

“France, said that piece, is not yet in a condition to go to war again:
things should be left to remain as they are, till she is able to cope
with England; otherwise every thing will be ruined. The war by sea will
give the turn to that by land: Great Britain will chuse this juncture
for inducing the King of Prussia to declare against France, which thus
will have two weighty wars on its hands, and only for a continent of no
great importance, and which, at last, it will certainly lose, for the
events of this war may be easily foreseen.

“The English navy is much superior to that of France; and the King of
Prussia has two hundred thousand well disciplined men, ready, at the
first order, to march, and make a powerful diversion in Germany; and,
with the addition of those in England, will unquestionably turn the
scale in the north. France is very well as it is, and should aim at
nothing beyond keeping itself so, till a favourable opportunity shall
enable it to do better.

“Nothing in America calls for haste; you will always have time enough to
make good your claims there: the Savages are your friends; they cannot
endure the English. At present interfere no farther than fomenting this
variance without promoting it; the time will come when you may make your
own use of it: precipitancy spoils the most promising affairs; whereas
time and patience bring every thing to bear.

“Don’t imagine that your intrigues with the Americans blind Europe; the
most clandestine practices of courts are always detected. Already, you
are made accountable for the proceedings of the Canadians, though you
appear not to concern yourselves about them. It is known to all Europe,
that the North American savages act without any continued design, when
not spirited up and directed. Every body knows those automata have no
will of their own, saying and doing only just as they are bid to do.

“Your navy is but in its infancy, scarce begun to be formed, so that a
war only of two years would totally destroy it. Before engaging in a
war, there is a sure way of knowing whether it should be undertaken,
which is to weigh the advantages of the conquests with the disadvantages
of the defeats.

“Should you beat the English at sea, which is a circumstance out of all
probability, you will retain North America, which you already have; if
beaten, and here the likelihood lies, you will lose America, and perhaps
all your other colonies, for one conquest ever leads to another.

“The English, though beginning the war only on account of Canada, will
avail themselves of their first victory to enlarge their views: and the
court of St. James’s may afterwards strike out such a scheme of
destruction to France, as perhaps, at present, it does not think of.

“A great disadvantage to France, is its having no ally who can help it
to recover its losses against the English: the Spanish navy is in no
better condition than that of France; and the Dutch rejoice in a war
between the maritime powers, were it only for the vast advantages
accruing to them from their neutrality. A continental power may retrieve
the loss of a battle by a subsequent victory; a more experienced
general, better disciplined troops, or more favourable circumstances,
will give a turn to a land-war; but the maritime concerns of France are
so situated, that a colony taken from it is lost for ever; its ships,
the only means of bringing it again into the path of victory, being

This memorial, however approved by some politicians to whom I have since
shewed it, had not the effect which might have been expected; another,
afterwards presented to the same Minister, set the same object in a very
different light.

It is said that the members of the English parliament being generally of
contrary opinions, long debates are very frequent in that assembly; and
that these debates produce lights, from which the hearers receive great
improvement, and become better qualified to serve their country. It is
otherwise in France: here the contrariety of opinions only bewilders the
understanding, and increases the confusion.

“The Canada affair, said the last writer, too nearly concerns the French
monarchy, to be left as it is. Every minute we lose diminishes our
power, and augments that of our enemies. The war ought to have been
continued, had not second causes forced the government into a peace;
but those causes no longer subsisting, we should take up arms again.

“The English will never keep within the limits assigned by the
commissaries. They will, by skirmishes and secret practices, be ever
endeavouring to come beyond those barriers: they must be prevented in
time, their schemes must be destroyed at their very first appearance,
otherwise it will be too late.

“The loss of Canada would be an inconceivable detriment to France. It is
that to which England owes its being mistress of the sea, opening to it
numberless branches of commerce, which it would never have known without
being possessed of this continent.

“Though we have no great navy, yet have we shipping enough; a sea
quarrel is not the point, but a land war. It is enough for us to send
over some troops to Canada; the American affairs have no connection with
those of our country. Should any disturbances happen in Germany, they
will spring from a quite different cause; and if the King of Prussia
declares against France, it will be for some particular views of his
own, quite foreign to our colonies; he would declare himself, if we had
no dispute with the Britons about Canada.

“It is not the first time of our having several wars on our hands, or,
rather, it is impossible that we should have but one at a time.

“Our concerns are so closely linked with the other powers of Europe,
that on our arming, five or six princes cannot avoid declaring.

“The situation of affairs in Canada lays us under a necessity of
renewing the war: we cannot continue in the state we now are in; the
capital effort of our politics should be to recover the advantage which
we lost by means of the English.

“Amidst all the magnified superiority of the British navy, its successes
are not so certain as supposed. Advantages in war depend on a great
number of unforeseen events. It is often observed, that the certain
expectation of a victory has suddenly turned into the disappointment of
a defeat.

“England has not had time, since the peace, to increase its marine; its
naval force is, at this day, just as it was at the end of the war.
Before the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, we could defend ourselves at sea,
and still can: but if we defer any longer, the time will be over; for
the British navy now is encreasing every day. Our’s will be so much
inferior, as not to dare to shew its face before them; and then we shall
be obliged to relinquish North America.

“Let us, without delay, begin the war again, and then we shall drive the
English out of Canada; whereas, by continuing the peace, they will
dispossess us. This is no time for parlying; we must either give up that
part of America to England, or prepare to dispute it.

“The savage nations are our allies, they mortally hate the English; and
shall we delay availing ourselves of such a favourable disposition? A
people without any fixed laws, is naturally given to change. The
Canadians love war, and despise such nations as live in peace: twenty
years inactivity would give them an ill opinion of the French; whereas,
seeing us at war with a nation whom they hate, they will esteem us, and
come into a closer alliance with us than before, &c.”

These memorials made no alteration in the general system; both sides
continued to dissemble, and express a desire of cultivating the peace.
England applied itself to increase its navy, and France sent orders to
Brest and Rochfort, for building ships with the utmost dispatch.

Amidst the most earnest concern to redress the calamities of the state,
no expedients could be found for so great and good an end. The people
could not be relieved but by abolishing the taxes; and the expences of
the state could not be answered but by new imposts: every branch of the
government was embarrassed; so that the King often said to me, with a
painful sense of such a situation, _I know not where to begin_.

The advantages of the encouragement of tillage, the improvement of
arts, the increase of trade, the discharge of the national debt, were
only in perspective; whereas the people stood in need of present relief.
Observing that the public affairs greatly affected the King’s temper and
constitution, I contrasted them with diversions. I may say, the most gay
and striking conceits of imagination, for pleasing the senses, were now
exhibited at Versailles. In all the entertainments which I gave to the
Monarch, there was little of my own; I had people of taste at Paris who
furnished me with original materials, to which I only gave a few

Amidst all my inventions to draw the court from that mournful state
which the perplexity of affairs shed on it, I perceived that the King
was not so chearful as I could have desired. He had a cloudiness in his
looks, which were naturally sprightly; he was, likewise, more thoughtful
than usual. Alarmed at this lugubrious scene, I took the liberty to ask
his Majesty the cause of so unhappy an alteration. He vaguely answered,
“that he was not sensible of any alteration, and that my company still
was his chief delight:” the revolution, however, was but too certain.

My enemies having miscarried in their design of inducing the King to
remove me from court, by political motives, set religion to work; and no
less a person than his Majesty’s confessor was put at the head of this
cabal. He was a Jesuit with only morality for his instrument; but as
that, with a Prince, seldom gets the better of pleasure, he contrived a
way which struck my Monarch.

This reverend father employed one of the best hands in Paris, in a
picture representing the torments of hell. Several crowned heads seemed
chained down in dreadful sufferings; there was no beholding their
contortions without shuddering. This infernal master-piece he made a
present of to Lewis XV. The King having viewed it for some time with a
frown, asked the meaning of the picture, the very thing the son of
Loyola wanted.

“Sire, said he, the Prince you see there suffering eternal torments, was
an ambitious Monarch, who sacrificed his people to his vain delight in
glory and power. He next to him, whom the devils are insulting, was an
avaricious monarch, who laid up in his coffers immense treasures,
squeezed from his oppressed subjects. This third wretch was an indolent
sovereign, who minded nothing, and instead of governing by himself, left
every thing to his ministers, whose incapacity produced infinite
mischiefs. This fourth, whose sufferings exceed those of the others, his
crime being greater, was a voluptuous King, openly keeping a concubine
at his court; and by this scandalous example had filled his kingdom with
debauchery, &c.”

The allegory was coarse, and becoming a monk, who, in the want of the
means to attain his ends in this world, has recourse to things of the
other life. Lewis XV. who saw into the drift of the picture, ordered the
moralist to withdraw, but the impression remained.

This was not the first time that the churchmen had presumed on their
office, and abused the King’s goodness. A prelate had made him perform
an ignominious act of penitence when sick at Metz.

I used fresh endeavours to relieve the King from this return of languor,
and had in a great measure succeeded, when a family concern brought on a
severe relapse.

The Dauphin was now in his twenty-second year, which, by the custom of
France, intitled him to be intrusted with the affairs of the crown. This
Prince had always shewn the most submissive deference to the King his
father, but of late had put himself at the head of a party, most of whom
were my enemies: they exposed me with all the venom of scurrility, and
even brought in the King. Lewis XV. knew it, and this was what
occasioned that inward conflict which gave him so much trouble. After
communicating his situation to me, he said, _And what would you do,
Madam, in such a case?_ “Sire, answered I, I would admit his Royal
Highness the Dauphin into every council, and allow him all the honours
due to his rank and birth.” _Well_, said the King, _I will follow your
advice_; and soon after the Dauphin saw himself sent for on every
important deliberation.

M. de Machault, then at the head of the finances, left no stone unturned
to put them in a good condition: he was urged on every side. M. Rouillé
asked very large sums to form a navy; the payers of annuities were
perpetually at his elbow, and his apartment was never clear of those who
had advanced money in the late war. He one day said to the King, in my
hearing, _Sire, I know not how in the world, I shall answer your
engagements; every body is making demands on me, and no body will give
me any credit_.

Marshal Belleisle, to whom that laborious minister often used to pour
forth his lamentations, told him, “Sir, I see but one way for you, which
is to make the state a bankrupt. When a machine is out of order, the
only remedy is to stop its motion, and to set it to rights again.”

This advice, however, was not followed; and instead of stopping the
machine of the finances, in order to set it to rights again, it
remained in all its former disorder. I have somewhere, among my papers,
a scheme for discharging the national debt, in which the author, who was
accounted a very skilful economist, advanced, that, for the settlement
of an invariable order in the finances, the state, every twenty-five
years, should declare itself insolvent; and the creditors compound with
the King, as with a private insolvent.

“France, said this paper, will not hear of making itself a bankrupt, but
the way it takes to avoid it, is still more burthensome; for when the
King’s debts grow troublesome, does he not lay very onerous imposts on
the people for the payment of them? Now this is a remedy worse than the
disease, because the collecting of a tax, it is known, falls little
short of doubling it. He extorts from one to pay another; a bankruptcy
would ruin only a part of his subjects, whereas the means of payment
impoverishes every body.”

I am not sufficiently acquainted with finances, to determine whether a
wise King, in order to make his people easy, should begin by forfeiting
the confidence of the wealthy part of his subjects. There are always
some exceptionable things in these kinds of memorials. A person of a
great genius has often told me, “that should all the fine projects, for
making France the most opulent state in Europe, be carried into
execution, it would perhaps make it the very poorest in the universe.”

The particular favour with which Lewis XV. continued to honour me, drew
great numbers to my apartment, so that I had every morning a full court:
some persons of eminence appeared there purely to please the King; but
the business of the multitude was interest. I had brought the latter to
give me memorials, as otherwise, I could never have recollected so many
different objects. It is impossible for those who live at a distance
from court, to conceive the various classes of askers, and what a number
of favours the throne has the pleasure of bestowing.

I have read, in an original paper, that Lewis XIV. allowed all his
subjects, who had any demand to make at court, to apply directly to
himself. Had such an indulgence been continued under the present reign,
Lewis XV’s whole life would have been taken up only in giving audiences.
These memorials I had read to me, and afterwards talked them over to the

Besides those who asked favours, I was likewise teazed with complainers,
and indeed these were usually more in number than the others.

In so large a kingdom as France, it is scarce possible to prevent all
abuses; some necessarily arise from the very constitution, and the
maintenance of political order. But one complaint so particularly struck
me, that I thought it deserved to be laid before the King. This was the
disregard of the children of officers dying in the service of their

A general officer, if no gentleman by birth, though, by his courage, he
had secured the privileges both of the throne and nobility, leaving
issue, they were excluded from nobility; and soon coming to intermix
with the commonalty, no trace remained of the families which had
performed the greatest services to the state: a hero’s atchievements
died with him, his posterity were never the better for his exploits.
This I mentioned to the King with a sensible concern, and some time
after his Majesty, ever inclined to what was good and proper, issued an
edict, ennobling military officers and their posterity. The different
degrees of this nobility were specified in the edict, according to the
different ranks of the officers.

No body in the kingdom apprehended that I had any share in this
resolution; so that, unless my papers should be looked over, posterity
will never know that this establishment, which gave so much
satisfaction, was owing to me.

The courtiers were in as great a ferment as ever. They who found there
was no pushing their fortune by my means, endeavoured to hurt me. Herein
they often made use of indecent, and even insolent talk, besides the
baseness of calumny. Several cabals had been formed, and these produced
clashing and competitions, which affected the crown, as stirring up
discontent in those who held the principal posts of the state.

The chancellor de Aguesseau pleaded his great age, and laid down
business, as no longer able to bear the weight of it. A courtier, who
was present when the King received his resignation, said to him,
_Certainly, Sire, M. de Aguesseau must be above a century old, for at a
hundred years one is still young enough to be chancellor of France_.

Several other placemen quitted, alledging that they could not live in a
court where every thing was ruled by a woman: but this philosophy was of
the latest; they never had any thoughts of retirement, till their
endeavours to raise themselves to the very highest pitch of fortune, had
miscarried; and some, in their voluntary exile, had set instruments to
work, for making their appearance again on the theatre of power, which
they had so lately quitted.

M. de Machault had the seals. This circulation of posts, diametrically
opposite in practice, and requiring different talents, has been the
subject of much complaint: but the fault lies in ambition. In France
subaltern posts are looked on only as introductory to the more
honourable and lucrative employments. On the vacancy of any great
office, my apartment was crowded with competitors, who all had a genteel
competency; but they wanted profitable posts, to make a show in the

The round of diversions which I had settled at Versailles, to recover
the King from that lethargic heaviness which was growing constitutional,
did not break in on general affairs. Lewis XV. daily devoted six hours
to business. In the morning he employed himself about the foreign and
domestic affairs.

The death of Marshal count Saxe now cast a damp on the festivity of the
court. I remember a man of wit, being in my apartment when the news
came, said to me, _Now, Madam, we shall soon have a war, for he was the
only one of all his Majesty’s generals whom the King of Prussia in the
least feared_.

The frequent conferences between Lewis XV. and this hero gave me an
opportunity of studying his temper; for there is a pleasure in knowing
great men; and his mind was of a singular cast: all his private
behaviour savoured of the common man, great only in the day of action;
then his soul, if I may be allowed the expression, assumed a new form;
it became piercing, noble, and exalted: a new light beaming on his mind,
he had an instantaneous perception of every thing. His imagination had
nothing to do, the military genius which inspired him at those times was
all-sufficient; yet after the battle, all this flame and magnanimity
sunk again into littleness and vulgarity, nothing great remained in him
but the fame of his actions.

In private life, he addicted himself to sensuality in its most brutish
excesses; he was a stranger to that refined love which distinguishes
noble from vulgar souls, delighting in the company of women only for
debauchery; for all his mistresses were common prostitutes. Whilst he
was disturbing all Europe by his victories, the gallantries of La
Favart, an actress, allowed him no ease.

They who were often with him say, that he had scarce any tincture of
learning; war was all he knew; and that he knew without learning it.
Some politicians have thought, that his death wrought a change in the
systems of Europe, and particularly, that the King of Prussia would
never have renewed the war, had Maurice been living: it is certain that
one man may change the whole scene of our political world.

I have read, in original memoirs of Lewis XIV. of surprising
revolutions, brought about only by the ascendency of one mortal. Count
Saxe had long laboured with indefatigable ardour in pursuit of a repose
which he never enjoyed; for scarce had he seen himself in that summit of
grandeur to which his military talents had raised him, than death laid
him in the grave. Besides the royal seat given him by the King, in
reward of his services, with suitable incomes, he was invested with the
highest dignities and honours.

This general left behind him an incontestable reputation; his very
enemies allow him to have been a consummate warrior; but if he did a
great deal for France, France still did more for him; he never wanted
for any thing. The King’s commissaries constantly furnished him with
plenty of all necessaries; he had large armies, and fought in a country
which has almost ever been the theatre of French victories, and where
the glory of the French name has shone in its greatest lustre. Farther,
Maurice had with him the King’s best troops, impatiently longing to
signalize themselves. I heard one of the trade, and reckoned to
understand it thoroughly, say, that to be a hero, a man should have
passed through all the military paths leading to glory; whereas Maurice,
in the service of France, trod only one, and that smoothed for him; he
was never put to those trials where a commander, being forced to exert
all his abilities, approves himself a general.

I have read in the manuscript memoirs of Lewis XV. that the great
Condé’s enemies put the Queen-mother on sending him into Catalonia only
with a small body of troops, and those of the very worst. Conde, who
knew his enemies views, wrote thus to his friend Gourville: _I have been
sent here to attack the gods and men, with only shadows to fight them. I
shall miscarry; how can it be otherwise, when the means of beating the
enemy have been all taken away from me?_ Yet this hero, under the
disadvantages both of numbers and the climate, baffled all the efforts
of Spain.

The death of Marshal Saxe occasioned a revolution in the minds of the
military courtiers. They who hitherto had hid themselves behind his
merit, made their appearance: all put in for this hero’s post, and not
one of them was qualified for it.

The King, on the first notice of count Maurice’s death, said, _I am now
without any general, I have only some captains remaining_. Lowendahl,
however, was still living; but it is said, the genius of those two men
was formed to be together, and that the heroic virtues of the latter
derived their splendor from the superior qualities of the other. A
courtier said, on this head, _Lowendahl’s exploits are over; his
counsellor is dead_.

Whilst Versailles was full of this event, the Pope’s nuncio came to
acquaint Lewis XV. that the King of Prussia had granted the free
exercise of the Roman Catholic religion at Berlin; and that even the
religious were allowed to settle, and wear the habit of their respective
orders. A courtier hereupon said to the King, _Sire, that Prince is for
having a little of every thing. Once nothing would go down with him but
soldiers, now he must have some monks_. Another courtier replied, _Since
he begins to fancy gowns, let me advise your Majesty to make him a
present of all the Jesuits in France_. A third added, _That article
should be kept for the next treaty of peace, and let six Loyolites be
exchanged for one soldier_. The systematical people, however, attributed
this indulgence to policy; for when a Prince is looked on to be full of
schemes and designs, every step of his is nicely canvassed, and various
constructions put on it. Some said that the King of Prussia thereby
intended to ingratiate himself with the court of Rome, as, by its
intrigues with weak and superstitious princes, it can amply make up its
want of temporal strength. Some thought it to arise from a new system of
population, to draw Catholics thither from other parts; but the monks
and priests of our faith do not increase population, &c. &c.

For my part, I attributed it to the humour for new foundations, which
prevails with all the princes of our days. On examining the constitution
of the Prussian government, which is an absolute monarchy, the plurality
of religions will by no means appear suitable to it; at least I have
heard from a very intelligent person, that it is only in republics
where a freedom of religion can be properly allowed.

For some time the King had been more chearful than usual: after so many
vexations and fatigues, he now began to breathe a little; he was at
leisure to be often with me, and to hunt as much as he could. Never was
a Prince so fond of this exercise. His eagerness in it often fatigued
him beyond all bounds. I one day represented to him, that he made a toil
of that pleasure, and that it would be better for him to be more
moderate in it; that excess in any thing was hurtful: but he answered,
that the more he hunted, the better he found himself. This is a new
medical system; the court-physicians, who are all for motion and
agitation, will have kings to spend half their life on horse-back.

But a great satisfaction, which that justly beloved Prince now
felt, was the having given some relief to his burthened subjects. He
had remitted three millions of the land-tax, abolished the hundredth
denier, and the pence per livres levied on this impost. Though this was
no great good, it presaged the end of a great evil.

At the same time, Lewis XV. ordered an inquiry into the nature of the
taxes; of all imposts, the land-tax was found to be the most
burthensome, as not proportioned to the real income. The old tax was
still levied, without considering any decays, or damages of estates and
lands; many a market-town, or village, which had formerly been able to
pay large sums, was now no longer so; yet the same duty was required.

The government deliberated on ways for abolishing such an unequal tax,
and substitute another of a more proportionate assessment. This had, for
some time past, been often proposed, but always rejected. It was now
again taken into consideration, and after the most minute discussions,
it was found best to leave things as they were, lest worse
inconveniences might ensue. It is said, there are abuses in government,
the reformation of which would do more harm than the very abuse itself.
This was the opinion of the ministers, and of the King himself; but it
was not mine, having always thought that no good can come from evil. We
had often little debates about government, for Lewis XV. as I have said
in the beginning of these Memoirs, has a great deal of wit and
good-sense, and especially a very ready penetration. “You, Madam, would
he say to me, look on the political community as a private family,
whereas it is to be considered as an universal society, consisting of
different bodies, the conjunction of which constitutes the state. Amidst
this immensity of objects, conducted by men of opposite views and
interests; the security and well-being of the state is upheld by those
very things which seem to undermine it. In a private family, there is
only one single plan of administration, the abuses are few, easily
animadverted on, and the reformation of them restores that unity of
government which is the perfection of such a society: but in the general
community, good is to be continually ballanced by evil, and in this
equipoize lies the political order of the state.”

“If so, Sir, said I to him, how is it that those states, where the most
abuses are reformed, are the best governed. The Muscovites, of all the
European nations, were the least civilized, and consequently the most
unhappy, till Peter the Great appeared, who vigorously suppressing
abuses of all kinds, from his reformation has sprung a powerful nation,
a rich and happy people.

“Brandenburgh had neither force nor power; the art of war was scarce
known there; it lay in obscurity; it was of no account among the states
of Europe; and this contemptible condition was, in a great measure,
owing to many abuses which its sovereigns either could not or would not
reform. But in our times, one of its sovereigns has suppressed abuses,
introduced political order and military discipline, and this reformation
has enabled him to act a capital part on the theatre of Europe.”

“England is said once to have been nothing, till the parliament took in
hand to form its power. It has since been continually retouching the
political system, and correcting a number of abuses, which, for several
centuries, hindered this state from emerging into power and reputation;
and now its _bills_ shew the continued system of its greatness.

“France, Sir, is a home instance of this. Lewis XIII. a weak Prince, and
wholly governed by his ministers, concerned not himself about abuses; he
left the state as he found it, full of mismanagement and disorder. Your
great grand-father changed the whole, and by the reformation he brought
about in all the branches of government, imparted, as it were, a new
genius to his people.

“France, during the first years of Lewis XIV. rose to a pitch of glory
and grandeur beyond any thing ever seen in the Roman empire.”

Here the King smiled, and very obligingly said to me, “I own, Madam, I
did not think you had been so well acquainted with these points; it
gives me infinite pleasure that, besides the graces of wit and vivacity,
you are possessed of that knowledge which enlarges and revives the
judgment. The world is often deceived in those matters, continued the
King, and the greatness of Princes is almost ever confounded with the
happiness of the people. A Sovereign may make reformations in his
kingdom, and his subjects be never the better for them; he is the only
gainer by the change.

“Peter I. made considerable alterations in Muscovy, but did not thereby
make the Russians a whit the happier. The revolution was felt only by
the state. The Monarch became great and powerful, but the people still
continued little and mean; for to have brought them from the abject
state in which they then were, required the suppression of a multitude
of civil abuses and vices, which continued after his time, and still
subsist. The present Muscovites are sordid slaves, with all the
ignorance and superstition of their fore-fathers, who lived before the
reign of that great reformer Peter. And if the empire, once without a
soldier, has now a numerous army; yet this adventitious power depends on
the chance of a battle or two.

“Prussia, with all the reformations made there, does not find itself
more happy. The people, amidst their Monarch’s victories, groan under
the weight of the military burden laid on them; and its power depends on
the existence of one single man. When Frederick comes to die, its
political state dies with him.

“It is a question, continued the King, much debated, whether the
English are more powerful, and more happy, than they were before those
volumes of reforming _bills_ were in being: this is a point the nation
itself is not agreed on. There is a party in England which affirms that
the government is intirely ruined, and the political state indebted
beyond what it is able to pay; and that it cannot answer its
necessities. Yet I am inclined to think that England is increased in
strength; but this is rather owing to the inadvertency of other powers,
than to any reformations of its own, which would have profited very
little, had its neighbours followed its example.

“As to the instance of our own country, I have wished that France had
been in the same situation, at my accession to the throne, that Lewis
XIII. left it in. His successor, what with reformations, splendor, and
glory, reduced it so low, that it will be ages before it is thoroughly

Our political discussions were always mixed with politeness and
compliments; never did a word come from Lewis XV’s mouth which had any
thing of asperity in it, &c.

England still kept a watchful eye on the French navy; and, on our side,
the increase of it was the ministry’s chief object. All M. Rouille’s
demands of money were immediately answered, and he lost no time: ships
were daily launched.

France and England were, indeed, at peace; but acted with the same
mistrust as if at open war; the public expences rose high; yet the
French, who are continually complaining, did not in the least murmur, so
convinced was every one of the absolute necessity of having a navy
capable of facing that of Great Britain.

In the mean time, all the ministers continued declaring themselves
against me; the very persons who, through my interest with his Majesty,
had been promoted to the object of their wishes, were the most forward
in promoting my disgrace. Since my living at Versailles, I have often
lamented this flagitiousness, which is, as it were, innate in the human
mind. No sooner is a man invested with honour and power, than he studies
to cut off the hand which raised him. It is not my intention to enter
into all the arts and practices of my enemies; there would be no end of
the allusions, tales, stories, and songs, industriously disseminated
over the kingdom to expose me. However, I was always exactly informed of
what was said about me; but of some of my revilers I took no notice;
others I threatened to complain of to the King. All, however, continued
their abuses: I was a thousand times for leaving the court, had I not
apprehended that the King being now habituated to see me daily, it might
shorten his valuable life.

The Count de Argenson, secretary at war, did not love me, saying, “That
I gave too many military posts; that he had not so much as a lieutenancy
of foot at his disposal.” Now this accusation was so far from being
true, that I never recommended any person to his Majesty, without
previously consulting that Minister. It was purely my favour which
rankled him; he wanted to set the King against me, that he might ingross
the whole royal favour to himself.

Peace being the season for public foundations, a plan of a military
school, for instructing the French nobility in the art of war, was laid
before his Majesty in the year 1751. _The kingdom_, said the author,
_was full of gentlemen who, unable, conveniently, to put themselves
under masters, led an inactive life in the country, instead of spending
it in the service of the state_.

In this school five hundred gentlemen were to be boarded and educated:
the King was pleased to shew me the plan, and asked my thoughts on it.

“Sir, said I, nothing can be better; I could only wish it more
comprehensive. This school will not furnish officers enough for France,
which is so frequently at war. I have heard Marshal Saxe say, That in an
army of two hundred and fifty thousand men, there was seldom less than
twenty thousand officers; so that only one fortieth of that number can
be had from the military-school, which to me appears no small defect in
a foundation, of itself, so excellent.”

A courtier, on reading the plan for this school, jocularly said, _This
martial convent will afford very good military monks_.

The great objection made against it, by some discreet persons, was the
exorbitant expence of it, at a time when every resource of the state had
been drained to defray the extraordinary demands of the war. The
expence, indeed, was not to be furnished from the royal treasury; but
from whatever fund sums are taken on such occasions, they are still
burthensome, as tending to keep the people poor.

It was likewise said, that France stood more in need of a naval than a
military-school; that the King might find a hundred land-officers in his
dominions, for one sea-officer; that the French gentry was naturally
fond of signalizing itself in armies, and had as great an aversion to
fleets; but the plan had been resolved on.

The powers of Europe were at peace, when religious disputes, breaking
out, disturbed France in its political and domestic quiet.

Two parties, who, for forty years past, had been contending for the
superiority, now returned to the charge. Being quite ignorant of the
subject of their quarrels, I had it explained to me. Should ever these
Memoirs be made public, the reader will be so kind as to excuse my
tiring him with the following detail. Never had this evil found a place
in these annals, had it not concerned the King; but his interesting
himself in this dispute, and greatly so, is alone sufficient motive for
my giving some account of it.

A native of Spain, named Molina, in the fullness of his knowledge, took
it into his head to decide, and vindicate, how God acts on mortals, and
in what manner mortals withstand God. The Popes, who know every thing,
and pronounce sentence on every thing, had, till then, been totally
unacquainted with the mechanism of the metaphysical intercourse between
the Creator and creature; and, for their better information, Molina
invented many barbarous words, or scholastic terms, with innumerable
distinctions and divisions.

To proceed in this dispute with some order, and wrangle theologically,
he distinguished between _preventive_ and _co-operating grace_: one of
these graces could do any thing, and the other little or nothing; but
this not being sufficient for understanding what he himself did not
understand, he farther invented the _mediate knowledge_ and _congruism_.

According to him, God held a council of state in Heaven, before which
all men were summoned and interrogated, how they will act after
receiving his grace; and, according to the free use which he saw they
were to make of it, he decreed within himself, either to admit them into
Paradise, or call them down into hell.

Unluckily for the Christian world, this Molina was a Jesuit; an order
little beloved by the others: the Dominicans, especially, raised an
outcry against his congruism.

These things being transacted in Spain, the Inquisition took cognizance
of the altercation; and had they burned Molina, and a few Dominicans,
there would have been an end of the matter, and, for once, this tribunal
had done a good piece of service to Christendom. _Concomitant
concurrence_ and _co-operating grace_ had a trial at Rome; but the more
the parties disputed, the less understood they one another. A monk
offered his mediation: but this mediator was less intelligible than the

The difficulty was not so much the putting an end to the dispute, as to
know what the dispute was about. Neither party understood themselves or
the other, and, in the mean time, with their free-will, mediate
knowledge, complement of active virtue, &c. they ran themselves more and
more into darkness.

The bickerings, at length, ceased for want of disputants, there being
times when monks sacrifice every thing to indolence. All remained quiet,
till one Cornelius Jansenius renewed the contest; yet, instead of
inventing any thing, he only disputed behind a huge book, the author of
which was named Baius. The Jesuits sollicited the Pope to condemn
Cornelius, and by the dexterity of their agents at Rome, carried their
point there; but in other parts of Europe, it went against them. The
universities, the parliaments, and chiefly the women, profound judges
of such things, sided with Jansenius.

A paper war commenced with great acrimony; congruism, by dint of bulky
volumes, worsted predestination in some pitched battles: yet the war
went on undecided; both parties being now grown powerful, and fighting
merely for the honour of victory.

Till then, only private persons had appeared in the field; but now
universities declaring themselves, the action became general. No
accommodation was so much as talked of, there being no body, or society,
in the state, of a power sufficient to compel the two parties to accept
of its mediation.

In the mean time, the Molinist bishops drew up a condemnation of
Jansenius’s five articles, though, in the opinion of his party, they
were no more than what St. Augustine himself had advanced. Several
communities of men signed the condemnation; but the nuns, who have
nothing to do, and eagerly catch at every opportunity which may bring
them into the world again, protested against subscribing; and those of
Port Royal distinguished themselves by their firmness, or obstinacy.

I do not wonder that they refused subscribing, but am surprised that
their subscription should have been required; it was shewing them a
regard, on this affair, which ought not to have been shewn them: on
their pertinacious refusal, they were forcibly removed, and dispersed
into other convents; whereas the real punishment would have been to have
kept them always in the same spot.

The Popes, likewise, from time to time, issued new formularies, which
gave an air of greater moment to the quarrel; but they had done much
better to have left it to itself, and then Molina and Jansenius would
soon have sunk into oblivion; but the court of Rome is ever for being

In the midst of this war, however, a truce was brought about. Clement
IX. a man of good sense and prudence, drew up a set of articles of
capitulation, had them signed by the Jansenists, and thus, brought about
a peace; but, unhappily, when religion is in the case, war soon kindles

A father of the oratory, named Quesnel, is said, this time, to have been
the instrument of discord. He wrote a book which, after being applauded
throughout all Europe, France censured. It was not very easy to point
out wherein this book was to be found fault with; but religious cabals
were then in fashion. The Molinist party, in the mean time, carried it
with a high hand, having the King’s ear.

The confessor to Lewis XIV. was a Jesuit, who formed parties both at
court and in town, against the Jansenists, who keenly revenged
themselves with their pens; thus, though there was a prevailing party,
the war still continued.

Hitherto no manifestos had passed between the Molinists and the
Jansenists, both parties, in the heat of their zeal, having taken up
arms without any declaration of war. Lewis XIV. procured from Rome a
bull, whereby a fire was kindled, which has not since been quenched. The
Pope, the bishops, the King, the religious orders, in short, people of
all ranks gradually engaged in the quarrel, to the great disturbance of
the nation and families; all plotting and caballing one against the

The principal object of public hatred was father Le Tellier, who
over-ruled the King’s conscience: this was a hot and ambitious man, who
wanted to revenge some personal offences given him by the Jansenists,
and, in pursuit of his drift, alarmed both the King’s conscience and
the kingdom.

Lewis XIV. towards the decline of his life, was grown weak and
irresolute, and often harrassed with terrible fears of the devil. The
hard-hearted Jesuit had possessed him with a persuasion, that the affair
of the Molinists was the cause of God. His resentment chiefly aimed at
the cardinal de Noailles, and he had the confidence to move his penitent
to depose him judicially. The death of this Prince brought on a
suspension of this bustle, which was called the constitution.

The Duke of Orleans, who loved neither popes nor bishops, and despised
bulls, in order to rid himself both of the Molinists and Jansenists,
appointed commissioners for hearing their broils, separately from the
other affairs of the monarchy; with an intent to deprive them of their
public importance: but the wisdom of this precaution was frustrated;
those people still were for figuring in the state. They appealed to a
national council, which was nothing less than throwing off the yoke of
the administration, to erect another independent of it. The regent
banished and exiled both bishops and priests; but this remedy only
inflamed the disease, hardening both parties in their obstinacy. The
Jansenists and Molinists then formed themselves into two factions, under
the names of _acceptants_ and _recusants_. The Acceptants called the
Recusants heretics, and the Recusants gave the appellation of
schismatics to the Acceptants.

The frenzy for efficacious grace was bursting out with greater violence
than ever, when the Missisippi scheme was set on foot; then avarice did
what neither the Pope nor King could: all the people’s thoughts now ran
only on getting money. The names of Jansenists and Molinists were
almost forgotten, though to this nothing perhaps contributed more than
the contempt and ridicule which the Duke of Orleans put on this
controversy, calling it a trifle; whereas Lewis XIV. had been made to
lay it to heart, as an affair of the greatest concern.

The subsequent wars under Lewis XV. made the Jansenists and Molinists to
be still farther forgotten, though not without some occasional
skirmishes on predestination; but as there was no general action, they
were not much heeded.

The dispute, in the mean time, was not totally extinguished, or rather
it was a-fire lurking under embers. In 1750, the Molinists renewed
hostilities, refusing the Sacraments to sick persons of the contrary
party, under pretence of their not having confessional certificates.

The parliament intervened, and punished the delinquents; by which the
two parties regained the consideration, which they had lost by the Duke
of Orleans’s measures. This rupture gave rise to a new discussion,
whether the parliament could intermeddle with this affair, or had any
right to banish, or inflict punishments on priests, who, in refusing to
administer the sacraments, only conformed to the injunctions of their

The Jansenists said that the civil magistrate has a power legally
superior even to that of the church, the order of a state depending on
such subordination; and they farther added, that the administration of
the Sacraments is the capital branch of the polity exercised by the
civil magistrate.

The answer of the Molinists was, that in spirituals they acknowledged no
other superiority than that of the Pope and his bishops; that civil
affairs were the parliament’s province, and all it ought to concern
itself in; but that the kingdom of heaven had been committed to pastors,
and not lawyers.

The subjects, in the mean time, died without the sacraments; the priests
indeed were punished, yet the evil remained, and this affair gave the
King much uneasiness: the Bourbons indeed have always laid to heart
religious disturbances: the court gave itself more concern about these
confessional certificates, than ever it had shewn in the most important
political transactions. It often became necessary to put a violence on
priests, and make use of soldiers to compel them to administer. Never,
from the birth of Christ, had such a thing been seen, as having recourse
to the bayonet for the administration of the most sacred mystery. It was
indeed a horrid scandal; but to see subjects, at the point of death,
begging for the communion, and refused, was something still more

The King, one day, said to me, “These people give me a great deal of
uneasiness; if they go on, I shall be obliged to turn all the priests
out of their livings, and have their functions performed by
Capuchin-friars, who are intirely as I would have them, &c.”[4]

The court’s attention now came to be taken up with an affair of still
greater importance than the constitution itself; the election of a King
of the Romans. The house of Austria, fond of its greatness, is always
providing for the future security of it. As Charles VI. had engaged the
Sovereigns of Europe to make themselves the instruments of his ambition,
even after his decease; Maria Theresa, in her life-time, took measures
for fixing the Imperial throne in her family.

It was on a Prince who might be looked on as a Lorrainer, that she was
conferring the title of presumptive heir; for Charles VI. dying without
male-issue, the house of Austria had ended in him. The circles of the
empire accounted this measure a greater act of despotism than that of
the late emperor; as hereby the empire, from an elective constitution,
not only became hereditary, but even escheated to a foreign family: loud
complaints were made, and that was all. It is now about a century, that
the petty princes in Germany have not been able to shew their resentment
against the house of Austria, any farther than by complaints and

Maria Theresa, knowing how far her forces were superior to any which the
Northern Princes could oppose to her designs, communicated her plan to
the other courts of Europe, and to France one of the first. The King
shewed me the Austrian ambassador’s reasons, digested into writing by M.
de Puisieux, after a conference with that minister. The artful turn
given to them by ambition, makes them worthy of being preserved.

“The calamities still recent, said that Ambassador, which the vacancy of
the Imperial throne, on the demise of Charles VI. brought on Europe,
should move Christian Princes to prevent the like. The Emperor now
reigning is in full health, and it may be presumed, that God will grant
him length of days: but should one of those many accidents to which
human nature is liable, disappoint the public hopes, and shorten his
valuable life, Christendom would be plunged in the same abysses, as on
the decease of the last Emperor. It is therefore the concern of all the
European powers to prevent a war, that scourge which throws every thing
into confusion, lays waste whole nations, and thins mankind. The
calamities caused by the late vacancy of the empire are not likely to be
brought to a speedy end, and what will it be should new disturbances be
accumulated on the former?

“Too many precautions cannot be taken against evils, which, when once
happened, cannot be averted, or the issue of them determined.

“By the election of a King of the Romans, the views of Princes who may
have formed designs, are prevented; and the coronation once over, will
suppress all cabals and intrigues about being head of the empire. When a
sceptre is vacant, a great stir is made after it; but when once
possessed, it is no longer thought of.

“Archduke Joseph, indeed, should the Emperor die, is not of age to
govern his dominions; but the evils of minority cannot be compared to
those which the want of a head to the empire would occasion.

“Not that the Queen of Hungary is in the least apprehensive of her heirs
being deprived of a throne, the legal appenage of her family; her
leading motive in this settlement is to prevent the needless effusion of

“On the death of Charles VI. it was seen that all Europe cannot make an
Emperor. The Elector of Bavaria, after being placed on that throne by
foreign armies, was always in a tottering condition; so that had not
death deprived him of the crown, he would have been obliged to resign
it, &c.”

I have observed that ambassadors, in cases of personal interest,
generally overlook the regard due to Princes by the law of nations.
Here the Vienna minister would have France subvert the very foundations
of the Imperial constitution, and make that crown hereditary, which had
always been elective. He surely forgot that the house of Bourbon, as I
have been told, had, at the treaty of Westphalia, made itself a
guarantee of the liberties and privileges of the empire. His court
seemed not to recollect that the election of a King of the Romans
depended on the consent of the electors, in a diet held expressly for
such election.

The King, on reading this Memoir, asked M. de Puisieux what he thought
of the business. _Sir_, answered the Minister, _you must consent to
every thing; it is no longer worth France’s while to meddle with the
affairs of Germany; at present the King of Prussia is able to keep up
the balance in the North, and hinder the house of Austria from lording
it over yours; so that all we have to do now, is to look on_. The
council, however, was of a different opinion; but it is not the first
time that one man has been wiser than an assembly.

The court of Vienna was likewise busy in bringing the other courts of
Europe to countenance this election. That of England represented to the
Marquis de Mirepoix, that it was the interest of France to close with
the making a King of the Romans; doubtless, because it was theirs. This
court afterwards went farther, and George the Second affirmed, that the
election of a King of the Romans did not depend on the Electoral
college; that is, that the dignity of presumptive heir to the empire
might be conferred without any deliberation of the electors, which was
making the Imperial crown absolutely hereditary.

I remember all the memoirs of that time agree in the Archduke’s being
very young, but they all likewise added, that an Emperor under age was
better than a vacancy of the throne, which amounts to an approbation of
a regular succession.

A politician of our court, with whom I was talking of this election,
told me, that there was an article in the treaty of Westphalia, which
formally settled this affair. It is there expressly said, _That no
election of a King of the Romans shall be entered on, unless the
reigning emperor be out of the empire, and with an intent to be absent a
long time, or for ever; or that age should render him incapable of
government; or there should manifestly appear some great necessity on
which the safety of the empire depended_. But treaties are never
followed, and no more was said of this, than if it had never existed.

The King of Prussia alone stood up in defence of the Electoral-college;
but he had his reasons for this specious conduct. The election of a King
of the Romans secured the empire to the house of Austria; and it has
been believed by many, that he himself looked that way. There is indeed
no ambition, of which a Prince, so powerful in war as to subdue several
nations, is not susceptible.

I return to Versailles, from whence the affair of the King of the Romans
has carried me too far. Lewis XV. as I have said elsewhere, was now a
little relieved from the load of business imposed on him by the war;
peace allowed him a leisure, which was the very felicity of my life.
Amidst the confusion of sieges and battles, he had no settled residence.
Flanders had several times deprived me of him; but the treaty of peace
entirely restored him to me, and his confidence in me daily increased;
so that he even imparted to me his uneasiness, for kings have their
troubles both as men and as Princes.

Lewis XV. would often lament, that he had no friends, and had a thousand
times wished to have been a private person, for the sake of cordial
friendship and sympathy, to the effects of which Kings are always

“No sooner have I distinguished a subject by some considerable post, but
a hundred others, jealous of the favour, grow out of humour with me;
and, at the same time, I do not get the love of him on whom I have
conferred the benefit; he complains that I have not done enough for him,
and they, for my having done nothing for them. All love favour, and care
little for the King. I see about me only sordid souls, slaves to pride
and ostentation, acting only from interest; so that were it not for the
many favours emaning from the throne, they would not move a finger.
Another, and rather worse, inconveniency annexed to the crown, is the
impossibility for kings to distinguish honest men from those of a
different cast. They are so like each other, as to be generally
mistaken; for at court vice and virtue appear in the same colours. The
bulk of those about me, I strongly suspect to be void of any one
generous principle; but when I am for sifting them, my rank will not
allow of the proper measures. Thus they remain impenetrable to me, yet I
must employ them in the service of the state; and hence arise those
public misfortunes, for which I am answerable both to the present time
and to posterity.

“When some important choice is to be made, and I have pitched on the
person, all France seems to lay their heads together to deceive me. His
talents, his merit and virtue, are cried up to me; not one honest man
do I meet with in the kingdom to mention a word of any fault of his;
they are afraid of incurring the displeasure of him whom I have so
recently distinguished by my favour; and to this mean spirited fear they
sacrifice both me and the state.

“When, on the other hand, I withdraw my confidence from a minister, or
some other place-man, then I am told that he is deficient in every
political quality: those very persons who could never say enough in his
praise, now draw him in the most contemptible colours; all his faults
and errors, and sinister practices, are laid open to me in full detail.
The terrible accounts given of him from all hands set me against him, so
that I cannot bring myself to employ him, even though, by the
reflections on his past conduct and disgrace, he should afterwards
become thoroughly qualified for a public station.

“A patriot King is the most unhappy mortal under the sun; he has his
country’s happiness at heart, and is beset by people who cross his good
intentions. The ministers are the first in ruining a state, to save
themselves the labour of reforming abuses: to leave things as they are,
is soonest done; in the mean time, the evils continue, and when a
Monarch, tender of the welfare of his subjects, would remedy them, he
meets unsurmountable impediments; for the habit of a long and bad
administration at length comes to supersede the laws and usages, &c.

Another time Lewis XV. was pleased to open himself to me on the same
subject: “A great misfortune to a King is, that ministers generally
conceal the true state of things from them. Sovereigns are always made
acquainted with the calamities of their dominions the last; and this,
lest such information should put them on taking the reins of government
into their own hands; and every one makes it his study to keep them in
the dark. The immense variety of concerns in a large monarchy, obliges
him to trust to ministers, and these ministers, for the greater part,
play false with him. On the last war, I consulted those who were at the
head of the administration, whether the advantages of victories would
balance the inevitable misfortunes of battles: one and all assured me,
that by no other way could the kingdom be retrieved, than by the glory
of my arms; and that the lustre and advantages derived from the
victories, would be the more lasting and solid, as due only to the
nation’s own strength.

“At the peace, I found they had deceived me; my subjects are in the
utmost distress, and all owing to the war; so that to recover themselves
must be the work of years; and should fresh disturbances happen, it will
never be done, &c. &c.”

I likewise had my complaints. “Sir, said I to the King, my grievances,
tho’ of a different nature from yours, are not less painful. The rancour
of all France is pointed at me. The royal family inveighs against me;
his royal Highness the Dauphin takes all opportunities of affronting me:
your ministers look on me as the fatal rock on which all their designs
go to wreck. The chief families of the kingdom treat me with contempt;
and all this because your Majesty has thought me worthy of your esteem.

“Many carry their malevolence so far, as to impute the disorders of the
finances to me, as if the administration of affairs was lodged in my
hands. I am accused of having all the money in the kingdom; I am changed
with the nation’s debts, as if I myself had contracted them. On any
minister’s failing in his duty, the blame is immediately laid on me. I
am exclaimed against for his being preferred, and his disgrace is
imputed as a crime to me.

“It is I who bear the blame of all political misfortunes; and if I have
not been directly accused of having declared war against your enemies,
it has been said, that I might have prevented those murderous sieges and
battles, as if the fate of Europe was at my beck, and I could model
foreign courts.

“I have been reproached with the oversights of your generals; not a
battle has been lost, not a siege has been raised, but it is all owing
to me. So much as their personal variances and quarrels are laid at my

“The public distresses, though the consequence of a bad administration,
and the misfortunes of the times, have been attributed to me, as if my
doing. The populace has hissed me, and was often for stopping my coach,
and has been near coming to those extremities against me, with which
they only are treated whose notorious malversation has manifestly ruined
a people.

“Yet, Sire, what gives me most pain, is the ingratitude of those who
have felt the effects of my favour. I have often sollicited your Majesty
for persons, who were no sooner out of the meanness and obscurity from
whence I drew them, than they forgot the kind hand by which they had
been raised. I can reckon, hitherto, about three thousand persons who
owe their subsistence to me. It is through my care that they have been
brought into new stations, where they lost sight of me before they were
well warm in their places.

“Of such a great number, not one have I found with any due sense of
gratitude: nay, the greater the preferment, the less their
acknowledgment; some have even busily caballed against me: those whom I
thought most my friends, and whom the important services I had done them
should have made such, have been the first in deceiving and injuring me.
I have discovered treacheries at which I shuddered; so that since my
living at court, I am grown sick of mankind. I should have died a
thousand times under the anguish which such injurious treatment has
caused me, had not the kindness with which your Majesty honours me
reconciled me to life, &c.”

The death of the Prince of Wales,[5] eldest son to George II. and as
such, presumptive heir to the crown of England, made some impression at
Versailles: this Prince is said not to have been remarkable for those
eminent qualities with whose brilliancy the world is so much taken: but
they who knew him personally, perceived in him the more solid virtues:
compassion, goodness, sensibility, tenderness, candour, affability, a
readiness to oblige, and delight in doing good; these were his leading
dispositions: a Prince, in a word, qualified to make a people happy. He
had married a German Princess, intirely deserving to ascend the throne
with him. I have often pitied this Lady’s fate, to lose an affectionate
husband and a powerful crown at once, is one of those events which
elevated souls alone can bear with firmness. His death occasioned a
revolution in political affairs. France had great hopes of things going
better, when that Prince should have come to the throne: there was no
cordial harmony between him and his father King George. The son often
crossed the father’s measures, so that they seldom saw, and seldomer
spoke to each other. From this disposition it was hoped, that a Prince,
who so much disapproved the present system, would be less inveterate
against the house of Bourbon than his predecessors had been. It was
imagined that his accession would prove a happy turn for France, when,
perhaps, it might have only made matters worse. The sons of Kings, at
their entrance on regality, leave their ideas as Princes at the foot of
the throne, and take up those of Kings.

George II. is said not to have shewn any great concern at the death of
his son, appearing as usual in the drawing-room, and, within a few days,
giving audience to Ambassadors: in this there might be a little
affectation, it being the known character of that Prince to shew himself
firm and unshaken, in the midst of the most unfortunate events. The rest
of the royal family were in the deepest affliction: he was also greatly
lamented by his houshold; and I am told, that his death is still matter
of concern to many.

The death of this Prince likewise caused a national uneasiness, his
children being very young, and King George advanced in years, which
might be productive of the disorders almost inevitable under a minority.
In order to prevent them, the Princess Dowager of Wales was nominated
guardian to the King’s successor, and regent of the kingdom, till her
son should be of age; but the issue of the deliberation was, that this
Lady, who had come into England to wear the crown, should be neither
Queen nor Regent.

The French clergy’s affair, though thought to be over, was still going
on. The bishops and wealthy incumbents, amidst the privacy of their
dwellings, to which they had been ordered, disturbed the state; though
ardently desirous of returning to Paris, they were for coming at this
privilege as cheap as they could, haggling a long time with the King,
who, however, would make no abatement. They insisted on their
immunities, they pleaded their solemn promise to the Pope to maintain
their rights. This dispute irritated the court, and not a little soured
the King. At this juncture, a bishop took it into his head to come and
expostulate with me about the clergy’s prerogatives. This certainly was
not taking the right time, for as this affair gave so much displeasure
to his Majesty, it could not be very pleasing to me. The Prelate made a
long-winded harangue, in proof that the church was not to disseize
itself of its wealth. He recurred as far back as St. Peter, and through
an enumeration of those bulls, by which the church is ordered to keep
what it has came down to our times. “My Lord, said I interrupting him,
your prerogatives are what I know nothing of, but I know that your chief
duty, like that of other subjects, is to obey the King. Say what you
will of your bulls and immunities; every body of men declining to
conform to its Sovereign’s orders, is guilty of rebellion, and deserves
the punishment of high treason.”

A great many bad books came out against the clergy, in vindication of
the King’s cause. Among the several writers who, on these occasions,
take different parts, one wrote a pamphlet with the title of _An
Impartial Inquiry into the Immunities of the Clergy_. This work was full
of very judicious reflections, besides a nervous elegancy of stile: it
was indeed the only one on the subject which deserves reading.

After all, it became necessary that the plan which had been proposed,
and to which I myself had advised the King, should take place. This was
to draw up a state of the value of every churchman’s preferments, that
each might be taxed in proportion to his real income; and accordingly
the court ordered the intendants of the provinces to oblige all the
beneficed clergy to deliver in an account of the nature of their several
revenues. There was indeed a very hard clause, in case of a refusal; the
intendants being expressly enjoined to seize on the several revenues in
the King’s name, and leave the beneficiaries only an alimentary pension.
This was insuring their compliance; for being used to superfluity, they
could but very indifferently shift with no more than was necessary.

The clergy of France had already begun to lower their voice, when the
parliament of Paris raised theirs. I could find in my heart to say, that
in France the state is ever out of order; no sooner has the Sovereign
repaired some weak part of his prerogative, than another appears to be
running to ruin.

The parliament, instead of conforming to his pleasure, according to
their usual way, sent a deputation with remonstrances. These speeches
set out with great protestations of respect and submission, but are
seldom without some term which favours of a republican spirit, tending
to independency; and not seldom they strike at the prerogative of the

The King, though naturally irresolute, had his intervals of firmness, in
which he was immoveable. He gave the deputies to understand, that he
would have his edicts enrolled that very day, under penalty of
disobedience and immediate punishment.

The parliament were sitting when the deputies returned to Paris; being
forbid to deliberate, they registered the edicts. After this act of
duty, which they stiled deference, a second deputation was dispatched to
Versailles. These gentlemen began their harangue in this manner: _Your
Majesty has commanded, and your parliament has obeyed_.

A courtier said, that there they ought to have stopped, all the
remainder of their long speech being quite useless and superfluous.

The King was pleased, in the evening, to mention this affair to me; and
his having got the better of the parliament, made him much gayer than
usual; but this extraordinary chearfulness raised in me some misgivings.
To me, a body whose temporary submission excited in its master such a
lively joy, appeared dangerous.


       *       *       *       *       *


 [1] The dukes of Richelieu, Mazarin, and Fleury.

 [2] The military school was but just instituted.

 [3] The country of Final, which belonged to the Genoese.

 [4] 1751.

 [5] 1751.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

runs in his viens=> runs in his viens {pg 13}

if the the least=> if the least {pg 17}

Monsieur d’Etrees=> Monsieur d’Estrées {pg 21}

Chales VII. the cause of this general=> Charles VII. the cause of this
general {pg 64}

in those impractiable=> in those impracticable {pg 70}

being less estemed=> being less esteemed {pg 74}

the Duke de Richlieu=> the Duke de Richelieu {pg 97}

to M. de Puysieux=> to M. de Puisieux {pg 105}

the Duke de Richlieu=> the Duke de Richelieu {pg 111}

the Marshall de Noailles=> the Marshal de Noailles {pg 132}

view: M. Rouille=> view: M. Rouillé {pg 173}

is an inquitous assessment=> is an iniquitous assessment {pg 179}

frequently with M. de Pusieux=> frequently with M. de Puisieux {pg 183}

great Conde’s enemies=> great Condé’s enemies {pg 210}

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memoirs of the Marchioness of Pompadour (vol. 1 of 2)" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.