Character Of Madame De Maintenon.

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Mme de Maintenon
Madame de Maintenon1 was a woman of much wit, which the good company, in which she had at first been merely suffered, but in which she soon shone, had much polished; and ornamented with knowledge of the world, and which gallantry had rendered of the most agreeable kind. The various positions she had held had rendered her flattering, insinuating, complaisant, always seeking to please. The need she had of intrigues, those she had seen of all kinds, and been mixed up in for herself and for others, had given her the taste, the ability, and the habit of them. Incomparable grace, an easy manner, and yet measured and respectful, which, in consequence of her long obscurity, had become natural to her, marvellously aided her talents; with language gentle, exact, well expressed, and naturally eloquent and brief. Her best time, for she was three or four years older than the King, had been the dainty phrase period; — the superfine gallantry days — in a word, the time of the “ruelles,” as it was called; and it had so influenced her that she always retained evidences of it. She put on afterwards an air of importance, but this gradually gave place to one of devoutness that she wore admirably. She was not absolutely false by disposition, but necessity had made her so, and her natural flightiness made her appear twice as false as she was.

1. Mr Geoffroy, history teacher at la Sorbonne, recently wrote a study about Mme de Maintenon which is well worth reading. He defines the part played by Mme de Maintenon and outlines its main characteristics. Her defence had already been set out by M. Chéruel (Saint-Simon considered as a historian of Louis XIV) and by Mr O. Gréard, of the Académie française.

Extract from Memoirs of Saint-Simon, by Le Goffic & Tellier, 1888.
Most of this translation was taken from The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, Complete, by Duc de Saint-Simon, published by Project Gutenberg.

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