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SAINT-SIMON, LOUIS DE ROUVROI, DUKE DE, a French statesman, soldier, and writer of memoirs, born at Versailles, January 15, 1675; died on his estate, La Ferté, near Paris, March 2, 1755. He was the son of a duke and peer of France, a descendant of Charlemagne, and early became a duke and peer himself. His studies were pursued under the direction of his mother, Charlotte de l'Aubespine, and he became proficient in Latin, German, and history. He entered the French army and distinguished himself during the siege of Namur in 1691, and in other campaigns, but resigned his commission in 1702. He became prominent at the French Court, opposed the Jesuits, and in 1704 proposed to end the Spanish war of succession by ceding land to Austria, and his suggestions were in a measure adopted as a basis for the treaty of Utrecht. After the death of Louis XIV. he became a member of the council, and aided the Duke of Orleans in obtaining the regency. He negotiated the marriage of the Infanta of Spain with Louis XV., and soon after his return from Madrid abandoned his relations with the government and retired to his estates.
The Memoirs of Saint-Simon extend over a long period, and refer chiefly to the latter days of Louis XIV., and relate every trivial circumstance that occurred at Court during this period. Shortly
after his death his manuscripts were seized by the government and placed under lock and key. Du. clos, Marmontel, Mme. du Deffand, Voltaire, and a few others had access to these documents, and just before the French Revolution, extracts, im. perfect and without authorization, began to appear.
The first edition was published in 1829, and made a great sensation. “Since the publication of Scott's novels," says Sainte-Beuve, “no book had been more widely welcome.” Many French editions of this work have been issued. The first excellent French edition is that published by M. Cheruel (20 vols., 1856-59). An abridged English translation was published by Bayle St. John (2 vols., 1857; new ed., 1875).
CHARACTER OF MONSEIGNEUR. Monseigneur was rather tall than short; very fat, but without being bloated; with a very lofty and noble aspect without any hardness, and he would have had a very agreeable face if M. le Prince de Conti had not unfortunately broken his nose in playing while they were both young. He was of a very beautiful, fair complexion; he had a face everywhere covered with a healthy red, but without expression; the most beautiful legs in the world ; his feet singularly small and del. icate. He wavered always in walking, and felt his way with his feet ; he was always afraid of falling, and if the path was not perfectly even and straight, he called for assistance. He was a good horseman, and looked well when mounted; but he was not a bold rider. When hunting—they had persuaded him that he liked this amusement-a servant rode before him ; if he lost sight of this servant he gave himself up for lost, slacked his pace to a gentle trot, and oftentimes waited under a tree for the hunting-party, and returned to it slowly. He was very fond of the table, but always without indecency. Ever since that great attack of indigestion,
which was taken at first for apoplexy, he made but one real meal a day and was content-although a great eater, like the rest of the royal family. Nearly all his portraits well resemble him.
As for his character he had none; he was without cnlightenment or knowledge of any kind, radically incapable of acquiring any ; very idle, without imagination or productiveness ; without taste, without choice, without discernment; neither seeing the weariness he caused others, nor that he was a ball moving at haphazard by the impulsion of others ; obstinate and little to excess in everything; amazingly credulous and accessible to prejudice, keeping himself, always, in the most pernicious hands, yet incapable of seeing his position or of changing it; absorbed in his fat and his ignorance; so that without any desire to do ill he would have made a pernicious king.
His avariciousness, except in certain things, passed all belief. He kept an account of his personal expenditure, and knew to a penny what his smallest and his largest expenses amounted to. He spent large sums in building, in furniture, in jewels, and in hunting, which he made himself believe he was fond of.
Monseigneur was, I have said, ignorant to the last degree, and had a thorough aversion for learning ; so that, according to his own admission, ever since he had been released from the hands of teachers he had never read anything but the Gazette de France, in which deaths and marriages are recorded. His timidity, especially before the King, was equal to his ignorance, which indeed contributed not a little to cause it. The King took advantage of it, and never treated him as a son, but as a subject. He was the monarch always, never the father. Monseigneur had not the slightest influence with the King. If he showed any preference for a person it was enough! That person was sure to be kept back by the King. The King was so anxious to show that Monseigneur could do nothing that Monseigneur after a time did not even try. He contented himself by complaining occasionally in monosyllables, and by hoping for better times. - Memoires ; translation of BAYLE ST. JOHN.