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THE SECOND WIFE OF THE DUKE OF ORLEANS.
Spain, took from the hands of an attendant a glass of milk, and within a few hours was a corpse. Trouble and trial commenced their work, with this afflicted family at its root.
The Duke of Orleans married again, his second wife being Charlotte Elizabeth of Bavaria. This lady's own description of herself will serve for her portrait. In her memoirs she says, “I must be very ugly: I have no features, small eyes, a snub nose, long and flat lips—poor elements wherewith to compound a physiognomy. I have large pendant cheeks and a broad face. My stature is short, and my person large; both my body and legs are short; altogether I am a fright.” There is no reason to doubt the correctness of the drawing. . When the Duke of Orleans first saw his wife in Paris, after he had been married to her by proxy, he could not conceal his disappointment and chagrin. “In truth," writes the good-humoured Duchess, “I was not surprised at this, on account of my ugliness. However, I resolved to live on good terms with Monsieur, in order that my attentions might habituate him to me, and that at length he might find me endurable, which was the result in the end." The Duke, surrounded by worthless favourites of either sex, proposed to the Duchess, after the birth of a second child, that for the future they should occupy separate apartments. The Duchess, always compliant, and whose sole desire was that she and her husband might live together on terms of mutual forbearance, had peculiar reasons for acquiescing instantly and cheerfully in
"It was very unpleasant, "writes this very sensible and sharp-witted woman, “to sleep
with Monsieur. He could not bear that any one should touch him during his slumbers : consequently, I had to sleep at the very edge of the bed, whence I often tumbled out on the ground like a sack. I was therefore enchanted when Monsieur, in all friendship, and without a quarrel, proposed that we should have separate rooms.'
The two children of Philip and Charlotte Elizabeth were the Duc de Chartres, afterwards the Regent Orleans, and Elizabeth, afterwards Duchess of Lorraine. Blunt and roughspoken as the mother might be, she had a rare pride of birth, much dignity, and a sincere love for her offspring. The great affliction of her life was the marriage of her son with Mademoiselle Blois, the natural daughter of Louis XIV. by Madame de Montespan, and the circumstances preceding the marriage are well worth the relating. From the King downwards, every one dreaded to make known to the proud Bavarian princess the alliance upon which the Grand Monarque was resolutely bent. The consent of the Duke of Orleans was obtained as a matter of course; the Duc de Chartres submitted to his father and the King. When the youth finally ventured to communicate the project to his mother, the enraged lady turned him fairly out of doors. When his father attempted to remonstrate, the demeanour of his injured wife sent him abashed and thoroughly ashamed of himself from
The intended marriage was to be announced at court that evening. An eye-witness, who saw the Duchess promenading the galleries of the palace, describes her as “walking rapidly, taking large
DEATH OF THE DUKE.
strides, waving the handkerchief she held in her hand, weeping without restraint, speaking loudly, gesticulating violently, and looking for all the world like Ceres, when deprived of Proserpine, seeking her furiously, and demanding her from Jupiter.” At the supper-table the Duc de Chartres took his place at his mother's side, the King being present, but the ill-favoured yet high-spirited lady took no notice whatever of King, husband, or child. Her eyes filled with tears until the monarch tenderly offered her of some dish upon the table, when the weeper sternly refused the dainty, with no other effect than that of increasing the attentions of the suppliant monarch. Upon quitting the table, his Majesty made Madame a very low bow, “ during which," it is written, "she wheeled round so nicely on her heel, that when the King raised his head he saw nothing but her back advanced one step towards the door.” The next morning the King held his usual levee of the council after mass.
Madame attended. Her son, according to custom, approached to kiss her hand. In presence of the whole court, and to the confusion and amazement of all the spectators, the Duchess greeted her boy with a slap in the face that was heard in the next apartment. The Duc de Chartres married the King's natural daughter nevertheless.
The Duke, his father, died in 1701. A profligate throughout life, he fell at last a victim to sheer gluttony. He had engaged to dine with the King at Marly. Before dinner, Louis reproached his brother for not prohibiting the infidelities of his son, which had grown into a public scandal. Monsieur replied sarcastically that fathers who led bad lives had no
authority over erring children. The rebuke was felt, and led to loud dispute. Monsieur vowed that not one of the promises had been fulfilled which had induced him to allow his son to marry a bastard. The King retorted, the language of both became disgracefully coarse, and might have grown coarser, had not an attendant ventured to inform the royal squabblers that their reciprocal abuse was overheard in the antechamber.
Dinner was announced. The King was passionless at the meal, as a king should be. The Duke was feverish and flushed, but he ate of everything. After dinner the King went to visit James II. of England, an exile at St. Germains. The Duke accompanied his brother to the gates, and then returned to take his usual supper “with the ladies of St. Cloud." He enjoyed the supper even more than the dinner. But during the third course, whilst pouring out a glass of wine, he was observed to speak thick, and to make strange gestures with his hand. The next moment he fell into the arms of his son, in a fit of apoplexy. At three in the morning the King arrived at St. Cloud, and found his brother speechless and insensible. At twelve o'clock the same day he expired. The intelligence was carried at once to the Duchess, who was in her own room when her husband breathed his last. The poor lady could say nothing but “No convent, no convent ! let no one speak to me of a convent !” By her marriage contract, the Duchess of Orleans was bound to choose between a convent and a residence at the castle of Montarges, which was her dower, and before the Duke was cold the lady had taken steps to avoid either alternative.
CHARACTER OF HIS SON.
Indeed, the breath was hardly out of his body when Louis XIV. and Madame de Maintenon were seen rehearsing the overture of an opera! Glorious age ! Magnificent epoch! Who looks one inch deeper for the origin of bloody revolution and European conflagration ? The desperate heartlessness, if there were nothing else, explains it all.
The son of the deceased inherited the faults of his father, and, with virtues peculiar to himself, exhibited vices as rare as they were monstrous. His passion for knowledge was intense ; he was an excellent linguist, a sound historian, a good mathematician, and an expert naturalist. Devoted to philosophical pursuits, he excelled in chemistry, and prosecuted the study of that infant branch of science with a zeal that drew upon him suspicions rife enough in all countries at the period. At sixteen the future regent had penetrated fields of information at the bare entrance of which royal youth is seldom found. But if the boy was in advance of his princely contemporaries as a lover of learning, he left the whole world behind him in his practice of profligacy and the grossest sensuality. At sixteen, it is said, he had all the experience in vice of a man of sixty. “My son," wrote his mother, "is like Madame de Longueville, who almost died of ennui when with her husband in Normandy. He hates innocent amusements.” His tutor, who lived to be a cardinal, was an atheist, and lost to virtue in every other respect, but his pupil outstripped his master in his mad career of blasphemy and dissipation.
The war of succession found the Duke of Orleans, then in his thirtieth year, intrusted with the command