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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Often chatted with Madame Scarron


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new power was beginning to appear on the horizon, with such modesty and backwardness that none could as yet discern it, least of all could the king. Madame de Montespan had looked out for some one to take care of and educate her children. She had thought of Madame Scarron; she considered her clever; she was so herself, "in that unique style which was peculiar to the Mortemarts," said the Duke of St. Simon; she was fond of conversation; Madame Scarron had a reputation of being rather a blue-stocking; this the king did not like; Madame de Montespan had her way; Madame Scarron took charge of the children secretly and in an isolated house. She was attentive, careful, sensible. The king was struck with her devotion to the children intrusted to her. "She can love," he said; "it would be a pleasure to be loved by her." The confidence of Madame de Montespan went on increasing. "The person of quality (Madame de Montespan) has no partnership with the person who has a cold (Madame Scarron), for she regards her as the confidential person; the lady who is at the head of all (the queen) does the same; she is, therefore, the soul of this court," writes Madame de Sevigne in 1680. There were, however, frequent storms; Madame de Montespan was jealous and haughty, and she grew uneasy at the nascent liking she observed in the king for the correct and shrewd judgment, the equable and firm temper, of his children's governess. The favor of which she was the object did not come from Madame de
Montespan. The king had made the Parliament legitimatize the Duke of Maine, Mdlle. de Nantes, and the Count of Vexin; they were now formally installed at Versailles. Louis XIV. often chatted with Madame Scarron. She had bought the estate of Maintenon out of the king's bounty. He made her take the title. The recollection of Scarron was displeasing to him. "It is supposed that I am indebted for this present to Madame de Montespan," she wrote to Madame de St. Geran; "I owe it to my little prince. The king was amusing himself with him one day, and, being pleased with the manner with which he answered his questions, told him that he was a very sensible little fellow. 'I can't help being,' said the child, 'I have by me a lady who is sense itself.' 'Go and tell her,' replied the king, 'that you will give her this evening a hundred thousand francs for your sugar-plums.' The mother gets me into trouble with the king, the son makes my peace with him; I am never for two days together in the same situation, and I do not get accustomed to this sort of life, I who thought I could make myself used to anything." She often spoke of leaving the court. "As I tell you everything honestly," she wrote in 1675 to her confessor, Abbe Gobelin, "I will not tell you that it is to serve God that I should like to leave the place where I am; I believe that I might work out my salvation here and elsewhere, but I see nothing to forbid us from thinking of our repose,


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