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James Duke of York with Mary of Modena ; he was governor of the province of Touraine ; first' Menin' to the first Dauphin ; Chevalier d'Honneur to two dauphines successively, Counsellor of State, a Knight of the St. Esprit, and Grand Master of the Order of St. Lazare.— He had,' says Fontenelle,' a very agreeable countenance, and a large share of natural talents, even to the writing very agreeable verses.' He succeeded Scuderi as a member of the French Academy, but is better known to the literary world as the patron of Boileau, who addressed to him the celebrated satire on Nobility. The sour and inaccurate St. Simon sneers a little at Daugeau's family; but, if its honours were not well vouched from other sources, it would be sufficient to substantiate them, that a writer of the nice taste and admirable good sense of Boileau selected him from all the grandees of France, for the apostrophe with which bis poem opens
La noblesse, Dangeau, n'est pas une chimère
Suit, comme toi, la trace où marchoient ses aïeux,' St. Simon, who seems to have loved a calumny even better than a joke, and both far beyond truth, represents Dangeau as ridiculously vain and self-important. That Dangeau was vain and consequential in his manner we can easily believe. It was the fashion of the time. The example of the king infected and inflated all bis courtiers, and M. de Montausier and one or two other originals are quoted with wonder in all the memoirs of the time, as exempt from this general bombast-exceptions so rare as to prove the general character of the court, and to render venial the airs of Dangeau.
Dangeau's chief vanity, however, was of an inoffensive and amiable kind; he was vain of his wife and her family.—She was of the family of Lowenstein,* and was, by one of those German alliances called a left-handed marriage, nearly allied to the house of Bavaria, to which the Dauphine belonged, and on the strength of this affinity, Mademoiselle de Lowenstein signed herself, as Madame de Sévigné informs us, Sophie de Bavière. The dignity, however, of the Dauphine was mortally wounded by such pretension. Mademoiselle de Lowenstein was obliged to retract her claim and cancel her unlucky signature;+ and on no other condition could Louis XIV,
The French always blunder in foreign names; Dangeau calls his wife before their marriage, Levestein. St. Simon's orthography is more correct.
+ Madame de Caylus, a great friend of Dangeau's, says, that the Dauphine was convinced of her error, and that the signature was not altered ; a mistake, probably wilful, wliich the Genevese editor corrects by explaining the mezzotermine by which the king appeased the contending parties, namely, that the signature • Sophie de Bavière Lowcastein' was changed into · Sophie Lowenstein de Bavière'!
re-establish peace in bis court, which he goodnaturedly had interfered to effect.
Madame de Dangeau, however, was worthy of any rank; and her graces and virtues are remembered when so many of her cousins of Bavaria are forgotten. Trivial as the event may be which gives rise to such reflexions, we ruminate with awe on the instability of human affairs and the vanity of human pride, when we see one princess of Bavaria so haughtily abjuring all relationship with Sophie de Lowenstein, and another degraded into the step-daughter of Mary Joseph Rose Beauharnois, alias Joséphine Buonaparte,
Sophie de Lowenstein,'-says St. Simon, (whose bile evaporates in describing her,) was beautiful as the day, formed like a nymph, with all the graces of the mind and body. Her mind was not indeed of a superior order, but it was the perfection of good sense; and her moral character was above all imputation. Her birth, her virtues, her beauty, her marriage, (more to the king's taste than her own, but in which she conducted herself like an angel); the rank of her uncle* and the station of her husband-all conduced to select her for the favourite of the court, and the selection was approved by every one.'-St. Simon, vol. ix. p. 19. Madame de Sévigné, too, in relating (which she does, as she herself gaily confesses, rather maliciously) the affront of the Dauphine's refusal to recognize Madame de Dangeau, exclaims, · Dangeau jouit à longs traits du plaisir d'avoir épousé la plus belle, la plus jolie, la plus jeune, la plus délicate, la plus nymphe de la cour.Let. du S Av. 1687. And Madame de Caylus, in her Souvenirs, expatiates with affection on the haute naissance, figure charmante et vertu si rare de Mademoiselle de Lowenstein, to which she adds, that her taille de nymphe' was very much set off by a flamecoloured ribbon which she wore (as men wear the ribbons of orders) because she was a canonesse of some German chapter,
But however Dangeau may have been mortified at not being acknowledged by the electoral house; however proud he may have been of his wife, and however he may have aped (as St. Simon delights to tell us) bis royal master in the ceremonies of the order of St. Lazare, he is undoubtedly the most modest of all writers of Mémoires.
Throughout the whole of his voluminous work, not a trace of personal vanity or self-sufficiency is to be found; his own name is rarely mentioned, Madame de Dangeau's scarcely more frequently; neither, except when the fact absolutely requires it, and then in the slightest, and most unobtrusive manner. Considering their stations, there is scarcely a page in which they might not have figured with splendour and propriety; and the greatest fault we have to find with Cardinal de Furstenberg.
Dangeau, is the tone of indifference in which he always mentions himself and his amiable wife; it serves however to excuse his coldness on other occasions, when we should have been indignant at his apparent want of feeling.
St. Simon finally accuses him of fadeur,' or insipidity :—from the caustic pen of St. Simon this is praise—for, as he admits that Dangeau possessed good sense, knowledge of the world, a faculty of writing verses, and a kind of wit,' we may be satisfied that the quality which St. Simon considered as insipidity was really good nature—a quality which his acrid spirit must have despised. As the three foregoing topics were the only ones of blame which the gay malice of Madame de Sévigné and the gloomy severity of St. Simon could find, we may safely believe the rest of their character of Dangeau, --confirmed by the unanimous voice of all his contemporaries--that to his good sense he added good conduct and pure morals, agreeableness in society, accurate probity and nice honour: and the internal evidence of his Journal gives us (as Madame de Genlis justly remarks) the most entire confidence in his veracity and in the accuracy of every event he relates, and almost of every word he writes.
The greatest defect in his character was what his contemporaries considered as one of his greatest merits—he played extremely deep, extremely well, and with great success :—a success, owing altogether, as we are told, to his extraordinary powers of calculation, which enabled him,' says Grouvelle, ' to form the most scientific combinations without appearing to think about it;' and Fontenelle, in the éloge pronounced upon him in the Academy, celebrates this power of his mind, and gives a remarkable instance of it.
'He asked some favour of the king, which Louis promised, on condition that, during the game which they were about to play, Dangeau should compose one hundred verses-exactly one hundred, not one more or less. After the game, at which he appeared as little occupied as usual, he repeated the hundred verses ; he had made them, counted them and arranged them in his memory, and these three efforts of the mind had not been disturbed by the hurry of play.'
Madame de Genlis very shrewdly suggests that, as the king had not bargained that the verses should be good, Dangeau, instead of these three mental operations, contented himself with extemporising the hundred verses after the game was over ; which would not be very difficult to a professed versifier: but if-as St. Simon tells the story, and as seems to agree with the fashion of the times --it was a set of' bonts-rimés des plus sauvages,' which Louis gave to be filled up, it would add to the difficulties already stated, and suppose a prodigious readiness in the poet.
Dangeau was so remarkable for his skill at play, that Madame de Sévigné relates, that one of her amusements when she went to court was to admire Dangeau at the card table. Our readers will not be sorry to see the passage, which is characteristic, not only of Dangeau, but of the French court at that period. It is to be found in her letter of the 29th July, 1676, giving her daughter an account of A DAY AT VERSAILLES.-We lament that our translation will afford our English readers but a very imperfect notion of the charms of the style of this extraordinary woman, who is as unrivalled in her own department of literature as Shakspeare and Molière are in theirs.
29th July, 1676. I went on Saturday with Villars to Versailles. I need not tell you of the Queen's toilette, the mass, the dinner-you know it all; but at three o'clock the king rose from table, and he, the Queen, Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, all the princes and princesses, Madame de Montespan, all her suite, all the courtiers, all the ladies-in short, what we call the Court of France-were assembled in that beautiful apartment which you know. It is divinely furnished-every thing is magnificent-one does not know what it is to be too hot-we walk about here and there, and are not incommoded any where :--at last a table of reversi* gives a form to the crowd, and a place to every one.
The king is next to Madame de Montespan, who deals : the Duke of Orleans, the Queen, and Madame de Soubise; Dangeau and Co.; Langee and Co.; -a thousand louis are poured out on the cloth---there are no other counters. I saw Dangeau play!-what fools we all are compared to him-he minds nothing but his business, and wins when every one else loses :-he neglects nothing-takes advantage of every thing-is never absent-in a word, his skill defies fortune, and accordingly 200,000 francs in ten days, 100,000 crowns in a fortnight, all go to his receiptbook.
* He was so good as to say that I was a partner in his play, by which I got a very convenient and agreeable place. I saluted the king in the way you taught me, which he returned as if I had been young and handsome-I received a thousand compliments--you know what it is to have a word from every body! This agreeable confusion without confusion lasts from three o'clock till six. If a courier arrives, the king retires for a moment to read his letters, and returns immediately. There is always some music going on, which has a very good effect; the king listens to the music, and chats with the ladies about him. At last, at six o'clock, they stop playing--they have no trouble, in settling their reckoningsthere are no counters—the lowest pools are five, six, seven hundred Louis--the great ones a thousand, or twelve hundred—they put in five each at first that makes one hundred, and the dealer puts in ten more
* A kind of game long since out of fashion, and now almost forgotten ; it seems to have been a compound of Loo and Commerce--the Quinola or Pam was the knave of hearts.
- then they give four Louis each to whoever has Quinola-some pass, others play, but when you play without winning the pool, you must put in sixteen to teach you how to play rashly: they talk all together, and for
ever, and of every thing. -“. How many hearts?”—“ Two!"-" I have three !"-" I have one!”. “ I have four!”—“ He has only three !" -and Dangeau-delighted with all this prattle-turns up the trump, makes his calculations, sees whom he has against him--in short-in short, I was glad to see such an excess of skill. He it is, who really knows " le dessous des cartes.”
At ten o'clock they get into their carriages ; the King, Madame de Montespan, the Duke of Orleans, and Madame de Thianges, and the good Heudicourt on the dickey, that is, as if one were in the upper gallery. You know how these calashes are made. The Queen was in another with the princesses; and then every body else, grouped as they liked. Then they go on the water in gondolas, with music--they return at ten --the play is ready-it is over : twelve strikes-supper is brought in, and so passes Saturday.”
This lively picture of such frightful gambling, of the adulterous triumph of Madame de Montespan, and of the humiliating part to which the Queen was condemned, will induce our readers to concur with Madame de Sévigné, who, amused as she had been by the scene she has described, calls it nevertheless, with her usual pure taste and good judgment, ' l'iniqua corte.'
The Marquis of Dangeau began his Journal in the year 1684, and continued with extraordinary perseverance to record from day to day whatever appeared worthy of his notice down to 1720: there seem to have been but two intervals, one in 1709, on account of the illness of his only son, wounded at Malplaquet; the other in 1712, on the death of the younger Dauphine-an amiable young princess, whose fate cast a gloom over France, not unlike
"That which of late o'er pale Britannia pass'd.' His notes are extremely succinct, not to say dry, and relate to all subjects, the most trifling as well as the most important, and preferably perhaps to the former. Our readers will judge of the extent of the original manuscript, when we inform him that Mad. de Genlis' abridgment contains fifteen hundred octavo pages, and that M. Lémontey has added above three hundred pages more. Such an immense mass has for a century past deterred every printer from undertaking its publication; and though it was known to exist, and though the curious throughout Europe were anxious about it, it would never probably have seen the light but for the inclination of Madame de Genlis towards the history of Louis XIV., which induced her to wind through this labyrinth, and to select for publication such articles as appeared to her the most interesting. Those who read merely for amusement will consider, we fear,