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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Had been thinking of marrying Mdlle


the apparent reserve and modesty with which it was cloaked, the real power of Madame de Maintenon over the king's mind peeped out more and more into broad daylight. She promoted it dexterously by her extreme anxiety to please him, as well as by her natural and sincere attachment to the children whom she had brought up, and who had a place near the heart of Louis XIV. Already the young Duke of Maine had been sent to the army at the dauphin's side; the king was about to have him married [August 29, 1692] to Mdlle. de Charolais; carefully seeking for his natural children alliances amongst the princes of his blood, he had recently given Mdlle. de Nantes, daughter of Madame de Montespan, to the duke, grandson of the great Conde. "For a long time past," says St. Simon, "Madame de Maintenon, even more than the king, had been thinking of marrying Mdlle. de Blois, Madame de Montespan's second daughter, to the Duke of Chartres; he was the king's own and only nephew, and the first moves towards this marriage were the more difficult in that Monsieur was immensely attached to all that appertained to his greatness, and Madame was of a nation which abhorred misalliances, and of a character which gave no promise of ever making this marriage agreeable to her." The king considered himself sure of his brother; he had set his favorites to work, and employed underhand intrigues. "He sent for the young Duke of Chartres, paid him attention, told him he wanted to have him settled in life, that the
war which was kindled on all sides put out of his reach the princesses who might have suited him, that there were no princesses of the blood of his own age, that he could not better testify his affection towards him than by offering him his daughter whose two sisters had married princes of the blood; but that, however eager he might be for this marriage, he did not want to put any constraint upon him, and would leave him full liberty in the matter. This language, addressed with the awful majesty so natural to the king to a prince who was timid, and had not a word to say for himself, put him at his wits' end." He fell back upon the wishes of his father and mother. "That is very proper in you," replied the king; "but, as you consent, your father and mother will make no objection;" and, turning to Monsieur, who was present, "Is it not so, brother?" he asked. Monsieur had promised; a messenger was sent for Madame, who cast two furious glances at her husband and her son, saying that, as they were quite willing, she had nothing to say, made a curt obeisance, and went her way home. Thither the court thronged next day; the marriage was announced. "Madame was walking in the gallery with her favorite, Mdlle. de Chateau-Thiers, taking long steps, handkerchief in hand, weeping unrestrainedly, speaking somewhat loud,, gesticulating and making a good picture of Ceres after the rape of her daughter Proserpine, seeking her in a frenzy, and demanding her back from Jupiter. Everybody saluted, and stood aside out of respect. Monsieur had taken refuge in lansquenet; never was anything so shamefaced as his look or so disconcerted as his whole appearance, and this first condition lasted more than a month with him. The Duke of Chartres came into the gallery, going up to his mother, as he did every day, to kiss her hand. At that moment, Madame gave him a box of the ear so loud that it was heard some paces off, and given as it was before the whole court, covered the poor prince with confusion, and overwhelmed the countless spectators with prodigious astonishment." That did not prevent or hamper the marriage, which took place with great pomp at Versailles on the 18th of February, 1692. The king was, and continued to the last, the absolute and dread master of all his family, to its remotest branches.

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