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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The dauphin was attacked in his turn


in former times given France a St. Louis. He did not deem her worthy of possessing such an ornament a second time. The comfort and hope which were just appearing in the midst of so many troubles vanished suddenly like lightning; the dauphiness fell ill on the 5th of February; she had a burning fever, and suffered from violent pains in the head; it was believed to be scarlet-fever (rougeole), with whispers, at the same time, of ugly symptoms; the malady went on increasing; the dauphin was attacked in his turn; sacraments were mentioned; the princess, taken by surprise, hesitated without daring to speak. Her Jesuit confessor, Father La Rue, himself proposed to go and fetch another priest. A _Recollet_ (Raptionist) was brought; when he arrived she was dying. A few hours later she expired, at the age of twenty-six, on the 12th of February, 1712. "With her there was a total eclipse of joys, pleasures, amusements even, and every sort of grace; darkness covered the whole face of the court; she was the soul of it all, she filled it all, she pervaded all the interior of it." The king loved her as much as he was capable of loving; she amused him and charmed him in the sombre moments of his life; he, like the dauphin, had always been ignorant of the giddiness of which she had been guilty; Madame de Maintenon, who knew of them, and who held them as a rod over her, was only concerned to keep them secret; all the court, with the exception of a few perfidious intriguers, made common cause to serve her and please her. "Regularly ugly, pendent cheeks, forehead too prominent, a nose that said nothing; of eyes the most speaking and most beautiful in the world; a carriage of the head gallant, majestic, graceful, and a look the same; smile the most expressive, waist long, rounded, slight, supple; the gait of a goddess on the clouds; her youthful, vivacious, energetic gayety, carried all before it, and her nymph-like agility wafted her everywhere, like a whirlwind that fills many places at once, and gives to them movement and life. If the court existed after her it was but to languish away." [Memoires de St. Simon, xi.] There was only one blow more fatal for death to deal; and there was not long to wait for it.

"I have prayed, and I will pray," writes F6nelon. "God knows whether the prince is for one instant forgotten. I fancy I see him in the state in which St. Augustin depicts himself: 'My heart is obscured by grief. All that I see reflects for me but the image of death. All that was sweet to me, when I could share it with her whom I loved, becomes a torment to me since I lost her. My eyes seek for her everywhere and find her nowhere. When she was alive, wherever I might be without her, everything said to me, You are going to see her. Nothing says so now. I find no solace but in my tears. I cannot bear the weight of my wounded and bleeding heart, and yet I know not where to rest it. I am wretched; for so it is when the heart is set on the love of things that pass away.'" "The days of this affliction were soon shortened," says St. Simon; "from the first moment I saw him, I was scared at his fixed, haggard look, with a something of ferocity, at the change in his countenance and the livid marks I noticed upon it. He was waiting at Marly for the king to awake; they came to tell him he could go in; he turned without speaking a word, without replying to his gentlemen (_menins_) who pressed him to go; I went up to him, taking the liberty of giving him a gentle push; he gave me a look, that pierced right to the heart, and went away. I never looked on him again. Please God in His mercy I may look on him forever there where his goodness, no doubt, has placed him!"


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