Memoirs of Saint-Simon

The king and the queen of Spain

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Duc d'Anjou
The first glance I took, when I made my first reverence to the king of Spain1 upon arriving, astonished me so much that I had to use all my senses to pull myself together. I couldn’t see anything about him reminding one of the Duc d’Anjou, and I had to look hard into this long and much changed face, which was even more closed up than when he left France. He was bent forward, and much smaller, his chin thrown forward, far away from his chest, his feet stiff, touching each other, and stepping over each over as he walked, although walked quickly, and the knees more than one foot apart. What he told me was well said, but he said it so slowly, as though dragging each word out of his mouth, with such a stupid look on his face, that I felt astounded. A jerkin, without any gilt, made of some sort of brown homespun, because of the hunt where he was about to go, did not do anything for his appearance or his bearing. He wore a wig and his blue ribbon over his jerkin, always and on any occasion, so that …Read more »

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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 …Read more »

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Death of Racine

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It so happened that one evening that he was between the king and Mme de Maintenon1, at her place, the conversation turned to Paris theatres. After having exhausted the subject of opera, they turned to comedy. The king wanted to know about parts and actors, and asked Racine why, from what he heard people say, the art of comedy had so dramatically dropped from what it once was. Racine gave him several reasons, and finished with those which, in his opinion, had the greatest share in it, which were that, for want of authors and good new plays, actors gave the old ones and amongst these, plays by Scarron which were worth nothing and which found no favour with anybody. At this the poor widow blushed, not because of the reputation of the legless author being attacked, but from hearing his name spoken, and in front of his successor. The king got embarrassed; the silence which then followed woke up the poor Racine, who realized in what deep well his disastrous distraction had just hurled him. He remained the most confounded of the three, not daring so much as to raise his eyes or to open his mouth. This silence …Read more »

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