THE Chevalier de Grammont, upon his return to France, sustained, with the greatest success, the reputation he had acquired abroad. Alert at play, active and vigilant in love; sometimes successful, and always feared, in his intrigues; in war alike prepared for the events of good or ill fortune; possessing an inexhaustible fund of pleasantry in the former, and full of expedients and dexterity in the latter.
Zealously attached to the Prince de Condé from inclination, he was a witness, and, if we may be allowed to say it, his companion, in the glory he had acquired at the celebrated battles of Lens, Norlinguen, and Fribourg; and the details he so frequently gave of them were far from diminishing their lustre.
So long as he had only some scruples of conscience, and a thousand interests to sacrifice, he quitted all to follow a man, whom strong motives and resentments, which in some manner appeared excusable, had withdrawn from the paths of rectitude. He adhered to him in his first disgrace, with a constancy of which there are few examples; but he could not submit to the injuries which he afterwards received, and which such an inviolable attachment so little merited. Therefore, without fearing any reproach for a conduct which sufficiently justified itself, as he had formerly deviated from his duty, by entering into the service of the Prince de Condé, he thought he had a right to leave him to return again to his duty.
His peace was soon made at court, where many, far more culpable than himself, were immediately received into favour, when they desired it; for the Queen, still terrified at the dangers into which the civil wars had plunged the state at the commencement of her regency, endeavoured by lenient measures to conciliate the minds of the people. The policy of the minister was neither sanguinary nor revengeful. His favourite maxim was rather to appease the minds of the discontented by lenity, than to have recourse to violent measures; to be content with losing nothing by the war, without being at the expense of gaining any advantage from the enemy; to suffer his character to be very severely handled, provided he could amass much wealth, and to spin out the minority to the greatest possible extent.
His avidity to heap up riches was not alone confined to the thousand different means, with which he was furnished by his authority, and the situation in which he was placed. His whole pursuit was gain. He was naturally fond of gaming; but he only played to enrich himself, and therefore, whenever he found an opportunity, he cheated.
As he found the Chevalier de Grammont possessed a great deal of wit, and a great deal of money, he was a man according to his wishes, and soon became one of his set. The Chevalier soon perceived the artfulness and dishonesty of the Cardinal, and thought it was allowable in him to put in practice those talents which he had received from nature, not only in his own defence, but even to attack him whenever an opportunity offered. This would certainly be the place to mention these particulars; but who can describe them with such ease and elegance, as may be expected by those who have heard his own relation of them? Vain is the attempt to endeavour to transcribe these entertaining anecdotes, their spirit seems to evaporate upon paper; and in whatever light they are exposed, the delicacy of their colouring, and their beauty are lost.
It is then enough to say, that upon all occasions where address was reciprocally employed, the Chevalier gained the advantage; and that if he paid his court badly to the minister, he had the consolation to find, that those who suffered themselves to be cheated, in the end gained no great advantage from their complaisance; for they always continued in an abject submission, while the Chevalier de Grammont, on a thousand different occasions, never put himself under the least restraint; of which the following is one instance.
The Spanish army, commanded by the Prince de Condé and the Archduke, besieged Arras. The court was advanced as far as Peronne. The enemy, by the capture of this place, would have procured a reputation for their army, of which they were in great need; as the French, for a considerable time past, had evinced a superiority in every engagement.
The Prince supported a tottering party, as far as their usual inactivity and irresolution permitted him; but as in the events of war it is necessary to act independently on some occasions, which, if once suffered to escape, can never be retrieved; for want of this power it frequently happened that his great abilities were of no avail. The Spanish infantry had never recovered itself since the battle of Rocroy; and he who had ruined them by that victory, by fighting against them, was the only man who now, by commanding their army, was capable of repairing the mischief he had done them. But the jealousy of the generals, and the distrust attendant upon their counsels, tied up his hands.
Nevertheless the siege of Arras was vigorously carried on. The Cardinal was very sensible how dishonourable it would be to suffer this place to be taken under his nose, and almost in sight of the King. On the other hand, it was very hazardous to attempt its relief, the Prince de Condé being a man who never neglected the smallest precaution for the security of his lines; and if lines are attacked, and not forced, the greatest danger threatens the assailants; for the more furious the assault, the greater is the disorder in the retreat; and no man in the world knew so well as the Prince de Condé how to make the best use of an advantage. The army, commanded by Monsieur de Turenne, was considerably weaker than that of the enemy; it was likewise the only resource they had to depend upon. If this army was defeated, the loss of Arras was not the only misfortune to be dreaded.
The Cardinal, whose genius was happily adapted to such junctures where deceitful negotiations could extricate him out of difficulties, was filled with terror at the sight of imminent danger, or of a decisive event. He was of opinion to lay siege to some other place, the capture of which might prove an idemnification for the loss of Arras; but Monsieur de Turenne, who was altogether of a different opinion from the Cardinal, resolved to march towards the enemy, and did not acquaint him with his intentions until he was upon his march. The courier arrived in the midst of his distress, and redoubled his apprehensions and alarms; but there was then no remedy.
The Marshal, whose great reputation had gained him the confidence of the troops, had determined upon his measures before an express order from the court could prevent him. This was one of those occasions, in which the difficulties you encounter heighten the glory of success. Though the general's capacity, in some measure, afforded comfort to the court, they nevertheless were upon the eve of an event, which in one way or other must terminate both their hopes and their fears. While the rest of the courtiers were giving various opinions concerning the issue, the Chevalier de Grammont determined to be an eye-witness of it; a resolution which greatly surprised the court; for those, who had seen as many actions as he had, seemed to be exempted from such eagerness; but it was in vain that his friends opposed his resolutions.
The King was pleased with his intention; and the Queen appeared no less satisfied. He assured her, that he would bring her good news; and she promised to embrace him, if he was as good as his word. The Cardinal made the same promise. To the latter, however, he did not pay much attention; yet he believed it sincere, because the keeping of it would cost him nothing.
He set out in the dusk of the evening with Caseau, whom Monsieur de Turenne had sent express to their Majesties. The Duke of York and the Marquis d'Humieres commanded under the Marshal. The latter was upon duty when the Chevalier arrived, it being scarce daylight. The Duke of York did not at first recollect him; but the Marquis d'Humieres, running to him with open arms, "I thought," said he, "if any man came from court to pay us a visit upon such an occasion as this, it would be the Chevalier de Grammont. Well," continued he, "what are they doing at Peronne?" "They are in great consternation," replied the Chevalier. "And what do they think of us?" "They think," said he, "that if you beat the Prince, you will do no more than your duty; if you are beaten, they will think you fools and madmen, thus to have risked every thing, without considering the consequences." "Truly," said the Marquis, "you bring us very comfortable news. Will you now go to Monsieur de Turenne's quarters, to acquaint him with it; or will you choose rather to repose yourself in mine? for you have been riding post-all last night, and perhaps did not experience much rest in the preceding." "Where have you heard, that the Chevalier de Grammont had ever any occasion for sleep?" replied he; "only order me a horse, that I may have the honour to attend the Duke of York; for, most likely, he is not in the field so early, except to visit some posts."
The advanced guard was only at cannon-shot from that of the enemy. As soon as they arrived there, "I should like," said the Chevalier de Grammont, "to advance as far as the sentry which is posted on that eminence; I have some friends and acquaintance in their army, whom I should wish to inquire after; I hope the Duke of York will give me permission." At these words he advanced. The sentry, seeing him come forward directly to his post, stood upon his guard; the Chevalier stopped as soon as he was within shot of him. The sentry answered the sign which was made to him, and made another to the officer, who had begun to advance as soon as he had seen the Chevalier come forward, and was soon up with him; but seeing the Chevalier de Grammont alone, he made no difficulty to let him approach. He desired leave of this officer to inquire after some relations he had in their army, and at the same time asked if the Duke d'Arscot was at the siege. "Sir," said he, "there he is, just alighted under those trees, which you see on the left of our grand guard; it is hardly a minute since he was here with the Prince d'Aremberg, his brother, the Baron de Limbec, and Louvigny." "May I see them upon parole? "said the Chevalier. "Sir," said he, "if I were allowed to quit my post, I would do myself the honour of accompanying you thither; but I will send to acquaint them, that the Chevalier de Grammont desires to speak to them." And, after having despatched one of his guard towards them, he returned. "Sir," said the Chevalier de Grammont, "may I take the liberty to inquire how I came to be known to you?" "Is it possible," said the other, "that the Chevalier de Grammont should forget La Motte, who had the honour to serve so long in his regiment?"
"What! is it you, my good friend. La Motte? Truly, I was to blame for not remembering you, though you are in a dress very different from that which I first saw you in at Bruxelles, when you taught the Duchess of Guise to dance the triolets; and I am afraid your affairs are not in so flourishing a condition as they were the campaign after I had given you the company you mention." They were talking in this manner, when the Duke d'Arscot, followed by the gentlemen above mentioned, came up on full gallop. The Chevalier de Grammont was saluted by the whole company before he could say a word. Soon after arrived an immense number of others of his acquaintance, with many people, out of curiosity, on both sides, who, seeing him upon the eminence, assembled together with the greatest eagerness; so that the two armies, without design, without truce, and without fraud, were going to join in conversation, if, by chance, Monsieur de Turenne had not perceived it at a distance. The sight surprised him. He hastened that way; and the Marquis d'Humieres acquainted him with the arrival of the Chevalier de Grammont, who wished to speak to the sentry before he went to the headquarters. He added, that he could not comprehend how the devil he had managed to assemble both armies around him, for it was hardly a minute since he had left him. "Truly," said Monsieur de Turenne, "he is a very extraordinary man; but it is only reasonable, that he should let us now have a little of his company, since he has paid his first visit to the enemy." At these words he despatched an aide-de-camp, to recall the officers of his army, and to acquaint the Chevalier de Grammont with his impatience to see him.
This order arrived at the same time, with one of the same nature, to the enemy's officers. The Prince de Condé, being informed of this peaceable interview, was not the least surprised at it, when he heard that it was occasioned by the arrival of the Chevalier de Grammont. He only gave Lussan orders to recall the officers, and to desire the Chevalier to meet him at the same place the next day; which the Chevalier promised to do, provided Monsieur de Turenne should approve of it, as he made no doubt he would.
His reception in the King's army was equally agreeable as that which he had experienced from the enemy. Monsieur de Turenne esteemed him no less for his frankness than for the poignancy of his wit: he took it very kindly that he was the only courtier who came to see him in a time so critical as the present: the questions which he asked him about the court, were not so much for information, as to divert himself with his manner of relating their different apprehensions and alarms. The Chevalier de Grammont advised him to beat the enemy, if he did not choose to be answerable for an enterprise which he had undertaken without consulting the Cardinal. Monsieur de Turenne promised him he would exert himself to the utmost to follow his advice, and assured him, that if he succeeded, he would make the Queen keep her word with him; and concluded with saying, that he was not sorry the Prince de Condé had expressed a desire to see him. His measures were taken for an attack upon the lines: on this subject he discoursed in private with the Chevalier de Grammont, and concealed nothing from him except the time of execution: but this was all to no purpose; for the Chevalier had seen too much, not to judge, from his own knowledge, and the observations he had made, that from the situation of the army, the attack could be no longer deferred.
He set out the next day for his rendezvous, attended by a trumpet, and found the Prince at the place which Monsieur de Lussan had described to him the evening before. As soon as he alighted, "Is it possible," said the Prince, embracing him, "that this can be the Chevalier de Grammont, and that I should see him in the contrary party?" "It is you, my Lord, whom I see there," replied the Chevalier, "and I refer it to yourself, whether it was the fault of the Chevalier de Grammont, or your own, that we now embrace different interests." "I must confess," said the Prince, "that if there are some who have abandoned me like base, ungrateful wretches, you have left me, as I left myself, like a man of honour, who thinks himself in the right: but let us forget all cause of resentment, and tell me what was your motive for coming here, you, whom I thought at Peronne with the court." "Must I tell you?" said he; "why, faith then, I came to save your life. I know that you cannot help being in the midst of the enemy in a day of battle; it is only necessary for your horse to be shot under you, and to be taken in arms, to meet with the same treatment from this Cardinal, as your uncle Montmorency did from the other. I come, therefore, to hold a horse in readiness for you, in case of a similar misfortune, that you may not lose your head." "It is not the first time," said the Prince, smiling, "that you have rendered me this service, though the being taken prisoner at that time could not have been so dangerous to me as now."
From this conversation, they passed to more entertaining subjects. The Prince asked him many questions concerning the court, the ladies, play, and about his amours; and returning insensibly to the present situation of affairs, the Chevalier having inquired after some officers of his acquaintance, who had remained with him, the Prince told him that if he chose, he might go to the lines, where he would have an opportunity not only of seeing those whom he inquired after, but likewise the disposition of the quarters and entrenchments. To this he consented, and the Prince, having shewn him all the works, and attended him back to their rendezvous, "Well, Chevalier," said he, "when do you think we shall see you again?"
"Faith," replied he, "you have used me so handsomely, that I shall conceal nothing from you. Hold yourself in readiness an hour before daybreak; for, you may depend upon it, we shall attack you to-morrow morning. I would not have acquainted you with this, perhaps, had I been intrusted with the secret: but, nevertheless, in the present case you may believe me." "You are still the same man," said the Prince, again embracing him. The Chevalier returned to Monsieur de Turenne's camp towards night: every preparation was then making for the attack of the lines, and it was no longer a secret among the troops.
"Well, Monsieur le Chevalier, were they all very glad to see you?" said Monsieur de Turenne; "the Prince, no doubt, received you with the greatest kindness, and asked a great number of questions." "He has shewn me all the civility imaginable," replied the Chevalier, "and, to convince me he did not take me for a spy, he led me round the lines and entrenchments, and shewed me the preparations he had made for your reception." "And what is his opinion?" said the Marshal. "He is persuaded that you will attack him tonight, or to-morrow by daybreak; for you great captains," continued the Chevalier, "see through each other's designs in a wonderful manner."
Monsieur de Turenne, with pleasure, received this commendation from a man who was not indiscriminately accustomed to bestow praise. He communicated to him the disposition of the attack; and at the same time acquainted him, that he was very happy that a man who had seen so many actions was to be present at this; and that he esteemed it no small advantage to have the benefit of his advice: but as he believed that the remaining part of the night would be hardly sufficient for his repose, after having passed the former without any refreshment, he consigned him to the Marquis d'Humieres, who provided him with a supper and a lodging.
The next day the lines of Arras were attacked, wherein Monsieur de Turenne, being victorious, added additional lustre to his former glory; and the Prince de Condé, though vanquished, lost nothing of his former reputation.
There are so many accounts of this celebrated battle, that to mention it here would be altogether superfluous. The Chevalier de Grammont, who, as a volunteer, was permitted to go into every part, has given a better description of it than any other person. Monsieur de Turenne reaped great advantage from that activity which never forsook the Chevalier either in peace or war; and that presence of mind which enabled him to carry orders, as coming from the general, so very a-propos, that Monsieur de Turenne, otherwise very particular in such matters, thanked him, when the battle was over, in the presence of all his officers, and despatched him to court with the first news of his success.
All that is generally necessary in these expeditions is, to be accustomed to hard riding, and to be well provided with fresh horses: but he had a great many other obstacles to surmount. In the first place, the parties of the enemy were dispersed over all the country, and obstructed his passage. Then he had to prepare against greedy and officious courtiers, who, on such occasions, post themselves in all the avenues, in order to cheat the poor courier out of his news. However, his address preserved him from the one, and deceived the others.
He had taken eight or ten troopers, commanded by an officer of his acquaintance, to escort him half-way to Bapaume; being persuaded that the greatest danger would lie between the camp and the first stage. He had not proceeded a league before he was convinced of the truth of what he suspected, and turning to the officer, who followed him closely, "If you are not well mounted," said he, "I would advise you to return to the camp; for my part, I shall set spurs to my horse, and make the best of my way." "Sir," said the officer, "I hope I shall be able to keep you company, at whatever rate you go, until you are out of all danger." "I doubt that," replied the Chevalier, "for those gentlemen there seem prepared to pay us a visit." "Don't you see," said the officer, "they are some of our own people who are grazing their horses?" "No," said the Chevalier; "but I see very well that they are some of the enemy's troopers." Upon which, observing to him that they were mounting, he ordered the horsemen that escorted him to prepare themselves to make a diversion, and he himself set off full speed towards Bapaume.
He was mounted upon a very swift English horse; but having entangled himself in a hollow way where the ground was deep and miry, he soon had the troopers at his heels, who, supposing him to be some officer of rank, would not be deceived, but continued to pursue him without paying any attention to the others. The best mounted of the party began to draw near him; for the English horses, swift as the wind on even ground, proceeding but very indifferently in bad roads, the trooper presented his carbine, and cried out to him, at some distance, "Good quarter." The Chevalier de Grammont, who perceived that they gained upon him, and that whatever efforts his horse made in such heavy ground, he must be overtaken at last, immediately quitted the road to Bapaume, and took a causeway to the left, which led quite a different way: as soon as he had gained it, he drew up, as if to hear the proposal of the trooper, which afforded his horse an opportunity of recovering himself; while his enemy, mistaking his intention, and thinking that he only waited to surrender, immediately exerted every effort, that he might take him before the rest of his companions, who were following, could arrive, and by this means almost killed his horse.
One minute's reflection made the Chevalier consider what a disagreeable adventure it would be, thus coming from so glorious a victory, and the dangers of a battle so warmly disputed, to be taken by a set of scoundrels who had not been in it, and, instead of being received in triumph, and embraced by a great queen for the important news with which he was charged, to see himself stripped by the vanquished.
During this short meditation, the trooper who followed him was arrived within shot, and still presenting his carbine, offered him good quarter: but the Chevalier de Grammont, to whom this offer, and the manner in which it was made, were equally displeasing, made a sign to him to lower his piece; and perceiving his horse to be in wind, he lowered his hand, rode off like lightning, and left the trooper in such astonishment that he even forgot to fire at him.
As soon as he arrived at Bapaume, he changed horses: the commander of this place shewed him the greatest respect, assuring him that no person had yet passed; that he would keep the secret, and that he would retain all that followed him, except the couriers of Monsieur de Turenne.
He now had only to guard against those who would be watching for him about the environs of Peronne, to return as soon as they saw him, and carry his news to court, without being acquainted with any of the particulars. He knew very well that Marshal du Plessis, Marshal de Villeroy and Gaboury, had boasted of this to the Cardinal before his departure. Wherefore, to elude this snare, he hired two well-mounted horsemen at Bapaume, and as soon as he had got a league from that place, and after giving them each two louis d'ors, to secure their fidelity, he ordered them to ride on before, to appear very much terrified, and to tell all those who should ask them any questions, "That all was lost; that the Chevalier de Grammont had stopped at Bapaume, having no great inclination to be the messenger of ill news; and that as for themselves, they had been pursued by the enemy's troopers, who were spread over the whole country since the defeat.
Every thing succeeded to his wish: the horsemen were intercepted by Gaboury, whose eagerness had outstripped the two marshals; but whatever questions were asked them, they acted their parts so well, that Peronne was already in consternation, and rumours of the defeat were whispered among the courtiers, when the Chevalier de Grammont arrived.
Nothing so much enhances the value of good news, as when a false alarm of bad has preceded; yet, though the Chevalier's was accompanied with this advantage, none but their Majesties received it with that transport of joy it deserved.
The queen kept her promise to him in the most fascinating manner: she embraced him before the whole court; the king appeared no less delighted; but the cardinal, whether with the view of lessening the merit of an action which deserved a handsome reward, or whether it was from a return of that insolence which always accompanied him in prosperity, appeared at first not to pay any attention to what he said, and being afterwards informed that the lines had been forced, that the Spanish army was beaten, and that Arras was relieved: "Is the Prince de Condé taken?" said he. "No," replied the Chevalier de Grammont. "He is dead, then, I suppose?" said the cardinal. "Not so, neither," answered the Chevalier. "Fine news indeed," said the cardinal, with an air of contempt; and at these words he went into the queen's cabinet with their Majesties. And happy it was for the Chevalier that he did so, for without doubt he would have given him some severe reply, in resentment for those two fine questions, and the conclusion he had drawn from them.
The court was filled with the cardinal's spies: the Chevalier, as is usual on such an occasion, was surrounded by a crowd of courtiers and inquisitive people, and he was very glad to ease himself of some part of the load which lay heavy on his heart, within the hearing of the cardinal's creatures, and which he would perhaps have told him to his face. "Faith, gentlemen," said he, with a sneer, "there is nothing like being zealous and eager in the service of kings and great princes; you have seen what a gracious reception his Majesty has given me; you are likewise witnesses in what an obliging manner the queen kept her promise with me; but as for the cardinal, he has received my news as if he gained no more by it than he did by the death of Peter Mazarine."
This was sufficient to terrify all those who were sincerely attached to him; and the best-established fortune would have been ruined at some period by a jest much less severe: for it was delivered in the presence of witnesses, who were only desirous of having an opportunity of representing it in its utmost malignancy, to make a merit of their vigilance with a powerful and absolute minister. Of this the Chevalier de Grammont was thoroughly convinced; yet whatever detriment he foresaw might arise from it, he could not help being much pleased with what he had said.
The spies very faithfully discharged their duty: however, the affair took a very different turn from what they expected. The next day, when the Chevalier de Grammont was present while their Majesties were at dinner, the cardinal came in, and coming up to him, every body making way for him out of respect: "Chevalier," said he, "the news which you have brought is very good, their Majesties are very well satisfied with it; and to convince you it is more advantageous to me than the death of Peter Mazarine, if you will come and dine with me we will have some play together; for the queen will give us something to play for, over and above her first promise."
In this manner did the Chevalier de Grammont dare to provoke a powerful minister, and this was all the resentment which the least vindictive of all statesmen expressed on the occasion. It was indeed very unusual for so young a man to reverence the authority of ministers no farther than as they were themselves respectable by their merit: for this, his own breast, as well as the whole court, applauded him, and he enjoyed the satisfaction of being the only man who durst preserve the least shadow of liberty, in a general state of servitude; but it was perhaps owing to the cardinal's passing over this insult with impunity, that he afterwards drew upon himself some difficulties, by other rash expressions less fortunate in the event.
In the mean time the court returned: the cardinal, who was sensible that he could no longer keep his master in a state of tutelage, being himself worn out with cares and sickness, and having amassed treasures he knew not what to do with, and being sufficiently loaded with the weight of public odium, he turned all his thoughts towards terminating, in a manner the most advantageous for France, a ministry which had so cruelly shaken that kingdom. Thus, while he was earnestly laying the foundations of a peace so ardently wished for, pleasure and plenty began to reign at court.
The Chevalier de Grammont experienced for a long time a variety of fortune in love and gaming: he was esteemed by the courtiers, beloved by beauties whom he neglected, and a dangerous favourite of those whom he admired; more successful in play than in his amours; but the one indemnifying him for want of success in the other, he was always full of life and spirits; and in all transactions of importance, always a man of honour.
It is a pity that we must be forced here to interrupt the course of his history, by an interval of some years, as has been already done at the commencement of these memoirs: in a life where the most minute circumstances are always singular and diverting, we can meet with no chasm which does not afford regret; but whether he did not think them worthy of holding a place among his other adventures, or that he has only preserved a confused idea of them, we must pass to the parts of these fragments which are better ascertained, that we may arrive at the subject of his journey to England.
The peace of the Pyrenees, the king's marriage, the return of the Prince de Condé, and the death of the cardinal, gave a new face to the state. The eyes of the whole nation were fixed upon their king, who, for nobleness of mien, and gracefulness of person, had no equal; but it was not then known that he was possessed of those superior abilities, which, filling his subjects with admiration, in the end made him so formidable to Europe. Love and ambition, the invisible springs of the intrigues and cabals of all courts, attentively observed his first steps: pleasure promised herself an absolute empire over a prince who had been kept in ignorance of the necessary rules of government, and ambition had no hopes of reigning in the court except in the minds of those who were able to dispute the management of affairs; when men were surprised to see the king on a sudden display such brilliant abilities, which prudence, in some measure necessary, had so long obliged him to conceal.
An application, inimical to the pleasures which generally attract that age, and which unlimited power very seldom refuses, attached him solely to the cares of government; all admired this wonderful change, but all did not find their account in it: the great lost their consequence before an absolute master; and the courtiers approached with reverential awe the sole object of their respects, and the sole master of their fortunes: those who had conducted themselves like petty tyrants in their provinces, and on the frontiers, were now no more than governors: favours, according to the king's pleasure, were sometimes conferred on merit, and sometimes for services done to the state; but to importune, or to menace the court, was no longer the method to obtain them.
The Chevalier de Grammont regarded his master's attention to the affairs of state as a prodigy: he could not conceive how he could submit, at his age, to the rules he prescribed himself, or that he should give up so many hours of pleasure, to devote them to the tiresome duties, and laborious functions of government; but he blessed the Lord that henceforward no more homage was to be paid, no more court to be made, but to him alone, to whom they were justly due. Disdaining as he did the servile adoration usually paid to a minister, he could never crouch before the power of the two cardinals who succeeded each other: he neither worshipped the arbitrary power of the one, nor gave his approbation to the artifices of the other: he had never received any thing from Cardinal Richelieu but an abbey, which, on account of his rank, could not be refused him; and he never acquired any thing from Mazarine but what he won of him at play.
By many years' experience under an able general he had acquired a talent for war; but this, during a general peace, was of no farther service to him: he therefore thought, that, in the midst of a court flourishing in beauties, and abounding in wealth, he could not employ himself better, than in endeavouring to gain the good opinion of his master, in making the best use of those advantages which nature had given him for play, and in putting in practice new stratagems in love.
He succeeded very well in the two first of these projects, and as he had from that time laid it down as the rule of his conduct, to attach himself solely to the king in all his views of preferment; to have no regard for favour unless when it was supported by merit; to make himself beloved by the courtiers, and feared by the minister; to dare to undertake any thing in order to do good, and to engage in nothing at the expense of innocence; he soon became one in all the king's parties of pleasure, without gaining the ill-will of the courtiers. In play he was successful, in love unfortunate; or, to speak more properly, his restlessness and jealousy overcame his natural prudence, in a situation wherein he had most occasion for it. La Motte Houdancourt was one of the maids of honour to the queen dowager, and, though no sparkling beauty, she had drawn away lovers from the celebrated Meneville. It was sufficient in those days, for the king to cast his eye upon a young lady of the court to inspire her with hopes, and often with tender sentiments; but if he spoke to her more than once, the courtiers took it for granted, and those who had either pretensions to, or love for her, respectfully withdrew both the one and the other, and afterwards only paid her respect; but the Chevalier de Grammont thought fit to act quite otherwise, perhaps to preserve a singularity of character, which upon the present occasion was of no avail.
He had never before thought of her; but as soon as he found that she was honoured with the king's attention, he was of opinion that she was likewise deserving of his: having attached himself to her, he soon became very troublesome, without convincing her he was much in love: she grew weary of his persecutions; but he would not desist, neither on account of her ill-treatment, nor of her threats. This conduct of his at first made no great noise, because she was in hopes that he would change his behaviour; but finding him rashly persist in it, she complained of him: and then it was that he perceived that if love renders all conditions equal, it is not so between rivals. He was banished the court, and not finding any place in France which could console him for what he most regretted, the presence and sight of his prince, after having made some slight reflections upon his disgrace, and bestowed a few imprecations against her who was the cause of it, he at last formed the resolution of visiting England.
Memoirs of Count Grammont