[Frontispiece: Statue of Louis XIV, the Builder of Versailles.]
The Story of Versailles
FRANCIS LORING PAYNE
MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY
MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY.
J.J. Little & Ives Co.
I. THE BEGINNING OF VERSAILLES
II. THE MAKING OF VERSAILLES. THE LUXURIOUS CHATEAU AND PARKLAND OF LOUIS XIV
III. THE LUXURY OF VERSAILLES
IV. THE GARDENS, THE FOUNTAINS AND THE GRAND TRIANON
V. A DAY WITH THE SUN KING
VI. GOLDEN DAYS AND RED LETTER NIGHTS
VII. THE WOMEN OF VERSAILLES
VIII. THE VERSAILLES OF LOUIS XV
IX. THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOURBON KINGS
X. THE SHRINE OF ROYAL MEMORIES, THE SCENE OF WORLD ADJUSTMENTS
THE HALL OF MIRRORS
If you could speak what tales your tongues could tell, You voiceless mirrors of the storied past! Do you remember when the curtain fell On him who learned he was not God at last?
Do you still see the shadows of the great? On powdered wigs and velvets, silks and lace; Or dream at night a feted queen, in state, Accepts men's homage with a haughty face?
A thousand names come tumbling to the mind. Of dead who gazed upon themselves through you. And went their way, each one his end to find In paths that glory or red terror knew.
Voltaire and Rousseau and Ben Franklin here, You've seen hobnobbing with the highly-born; Seen Genius smile, while, with a hint of fear, It gave to Birth not homage but its scorn.
Do you remember that Teutonic jaw Of him who crowned an emperor, that you Might know that Bismarck was above all law And free to do what victor vandals do?
Oh, Hall of Visions, now shall come anon A grander sight than you have ever seen; You've mirrored kings, but you shall look upon The mighty men whose edicts freedom mean
To races and to peoples sore oppressed; The men who mould the future for a race That breathes a wind that's blowing from the West— And you'll forget the Bourbon's evil face!
—EDWARD S. VAN ZILE. N. Y. Eve. Sun., Nov. 25
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Builder of Versailles . . . Frontispiece
The Hall of Mirrors
The Fountain at Versailles
A TRAVELER'S REFLECTIONS ON VERSAILLES
From the low heights of Satory we get a complete view of the plains of Versailles—the woods, the town and the sumptuous chateau. The palace on its dais rules the scene. The village and ornamental environment have been constructed to augment its majesty. Even the soil has been "molded into new forms" at a monarch's caprice. Versailles is the expression of monarchy, as conceived by Louis XIV. It is the only epic produced in his reign—a reign so fertile in the other forms of poetry, and in talent of all kinds. What epic ever chronicled the destiny of an epoch in a manner more brilliant and complete? In this poem of stone the manners of heroic and familiar life mingle at every step. Besides the halls and galleries, the theaters of royal estate, there are mysterious passages and sequestered nooks that whisper a thousand secret histories. The palace has two voices, one grave and one gay and trifling. It is full of truths and fictions, tears and smiles. The personages of its drama are as various as life itself; kings, poets, ministers, courtiers, confessors, courtesans, queens without power, and queens with too much power; ambassadors, generals, little abbes and great ladies; nobles, clergy, even the people. For two centuries did this crowd continue to pass and re-pass over these marble floors and under these gilded vaults; and every day its flood became more impetuous, every day it gave way more and more to the whims and passions. And the palace heard all, saw all, spied all—and has retained all, each action in its acted hour, each word in its place. During the two centuries of absolute monarchy, nothing took place that Versailles did not either originate or answer. Every shot that was fired in Flanders, Germany and Spain awakened here an echo. Richelieu was here, the first statesman of the monarchy, and Necker, the last. French literary history is inscribed on its walls, which received within them the great writers of France from Moliere to Beaumarchais. Art erected especially for Versailles the schools and systems whose influence has been felt through the succeeding centuries. For Versailles, Lebrun became a painter, Coysevox a sculptor, and Mansard an architect. But it was not France alone that depended on Versailles. Foreign nations sent their representatives to this famous center; the choice spirits of Europe came to visit it.
The history of Versailles was for two centuries the history of civilization. From Versailles may be seen the movement of manners, wars, diplomacy, literature, arts and energies that agitated Europe.
On entering Versailles by the Paris avenue, we see the palace on the summit of the horizon. The houses, scattered here and there and concealed among the trees, appear less to form a town than to accompany the monument raised beyond and above them. Approaching the Place d'Armes, we distinguish the different parts of which the imposing mass of buildings is composed. In the center is a singular bit of architecture. In vain the neighboring masses extend their circle around it: their great arms are unable to stifle it; but it possesses a seriousness of character that attracts the eye more strongly than their high white walls. This is the remains of the chateau built by Louis XIII at Versailles. Louis XIV did not wish to bury his father's dwelling.
THE STORY OF VERSAILLES
THE BEGINNINGS OF VERSAILLES
A dreary expanse of low-lying marsh-land, dismal, gloomy and full of quicksands, where the only objects that relieved the eye were the crumbling walls of old farm buildings, and a lonely windmill, standing on a roll of higher ground and stretching its gaunt arms toward the sky as if in mute appeal against its desolate surroundings—such was Versailles in 1624. This uninviting spot was situated eleven miles southwest of Paris, the capital city of France, the royal city, the seat, during a century before, of the splendid court of the brilliant Francis I and of the stout-hearted Henry II, the scene of the masterful rule of Catherine de Medici, of the career of the engaging and beautiful Marguerite de Valois and of the exploits of the gallant Henry of Navarre.
The desolate stretch of marshland, with its lonely windmill, meant nothing then to the court nor to the busy fortune-hunting and pleasure-seeking inhabitants of Paris. No one had reason to go to Versailles, except perhaps the poor farmers and the owner of the isolated mill—least of all the nobility and fashionable folk of the glittering capital. No exercise of the imagination could then have conjured up the picture of the splendor in store for the barren waste of Versailles. The mention of the name in 1600 would have brought nothing more from the lips of royalty and nobility than an indifferent inquiry: "And what, pray, is Versailles and where may it be?" You, my lord, who raise your eyebrows interrogatingly, and you, my lady, who flick your fan so carelessly, will some day behold your grandchildren paying humble and obsequious court to the reigning favorites at Versailles—yes, out there on this very moorland where you see nothing but marshy hollows and ruined walls, there will your lord and master, your glorious Sun King, the Grand Monarch, Louis the Fourteenth, build a palace home that Belshazzar might justly have envied: there will he hold high court and set the whole world agape at his prodigal outlay and magnificent festivities. And well may we inquire to-day: how came this dreary waste to be the wondrous Versailles, the seat and scene of so much in the making and the making-over of the world?
Ancient records of France indicate that in 1065 the priory of St. Julien was established on the estates of the house of Versaliis—a grant under royal protection. A poor farm community grew up about the ecclesiastical retreat. Here, also, on the estates of the barony of Versailles, was a repair of lepers, destroyed in the sixteenth century.
The origin of the name is said by some to be derived from the fact that the plains thereabouts were exposed to such high winds that the grain in the poor land was frequently overturned (verses). The lord of these acres first named in history is Hugues (Hugo) de Versaliis, who lived early in the eleventh century and was a contemporary of the first kings of the Capet dynasty. A long line of nobles of this family succeeded him. In 1561 Martial de Leomenie, Secretary of Finance under Charles IX, became master of Versailles. The farming village being on the route between Paris and Brittany, he obtained from the king permission to establish here four annual fairs and a weekly market on Thursdays. Martial perished in the Massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572. Henry IV, as a prince, when hunting the stag with Martial often swept across the low plains of Versailles. The rights to the lands of the barony were acquired by Marechal de Retz from the children of Martial de Leomenie, and inherited from the noble duke by his son, Jean-Francois de Gondi, first archbishop of France. It was this prelate that sold to Louis XIII in 1632, for 66,000 pounds (about $27,400), the land and barony of Versailles, consisting, in the phrase of the original deed, "of an old house in ruins and a farm with several buildings."
In 1624, Louis XIII, who had hunted in the vicinity of Versailles since childhood and in later life had sought relief there from ennui and melancholy, often slept in a low inn or in the hill-top windmill after long hunts in the forest of St. Leger. It occurred to him that it would be convenient for him to have a pavilion or hunting-lodge in this unattractive place, and accordingly he ordered one erected at Versailles, on the road that led to the forest of St. Leger. In 1627, concluding that in no other domain of its limited acreage could he find so great variety of land over which to hunt on foot and horse-back, he bought a small piece of property at Versailles. Immediately afterwards he caused to be erected what Saint-Simon called "a little house of cards" on the isolated hill that rolled up in the heart of the valley, where the windmill had stood.
Louis' architect was Philbert Le Roy, and the new villa was about two hundred feet from the lodge first constructed. Its form was a complete square, each corner being terminated by a tower. The building was of brick, ornamented with columns and gilded balustrades; it was surrounded by a park adorned with statues sculptured after designs by the artist Poussin. Ambitious addition! A villa on the old mill site, decorated by the favorite court artist of the day, Nicolas Poussin! The court resented the enterprise, the nobility despised it. It was the King's fancy; nothing else excused it. A noble of the court, Bassompierre, exclaimed that "it was a wretched chateau in the construction of which no private gentleman could be vain."
Scarcely was his new chateau finished (1630) when the King took up his residence there for the hunt. In this place were terminated in November, 1630, the autocratic services of Cardinal Richelieu to the King—the first of many significant historical events to take place there.
The King's sojourns at Versailles during the hunting season, however, had their effect. Many of the royal intimates were influenced to build on land given to them by the sovereign. So before Louis XIII died his chateau was surrounded by many charming country houses. On April 8, 1632, Louis came into possession of the feudal dwelling of Jean-Francois de Gondi and its lands. Versailles then began to acquire distinction. It was the King's resort. Could any one afford to question its character, or location, or the standing of those that, at the King's behest, took up their residence there? Not we surely, who can now view Versailles in the light of history. All aside from its splendid court life and its magnificent festivities, we know it as the scene of three epoch-making events in the world's history. During and shortly after the American Revolution, Versailles was the scene of treaty negotiations in which France, England and America were the active parties. About a century later, in 1871, the treaty was consummated there that ended the Franco-Prussian War, by which France lost Alsace and Lorraine and was forced to pay to Germany $1,000,000,000. And now, in our day, the most superb irony of history has brought about a treaty in the same Hall of Mirrors by which Germany repays, and the map of Europe undergoes radical changes.
THE MAKING OF VERSAILLES
The Luxurious Chateau and Parkland of Louis XIV
At the death of Louis XIII, in 1643, the little chateau of Versailles was abandoned as a dwelling. Then followed a fall in values at Versailles and a great flutter of uncertainty among those that had followed the King there. This feeling of doubt lasted for seven years. The faces of the court favorites were turned back toward Paris, and individual fortunes were speculatively weighed in the balance with the possibilities of the new King's whims and fancies. But when the twelve-year-old Louis XIV came to hunt in the vicinity of Versailles for the first time, he found the suburban dwelling of his father attractive from the start. The Gazette noted this visit, in 1651, and described the supper that the royal boy shared with the officials of the chateau. Two months later the King supped again at Versailles, and was so delighted with the estate and the hunting to be had thereabouts that, thereafter, he made it a yearly custom to visit Versailles once or twice in the hunting season, sometimes with his brother, sometimes with his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin.
Returning in 1652 from an interview at Corbeil with Charles II of England, then seeking refuge in France, Louis XIV dined at Versailles with his mother, Anne of Austria. In October, 1660, four months after his marriage to Maria Theresa of Spain, he brought his young queen there. The future of Versailles was assured. The King had decided to set his star and make his palace home where his father had established a hunting lodge.
The year 1661 was one of the most important in the history of the monarch. On March fifteenth, eight days after the death of Mazarin, the great Colbert was named Superintendent of Finances. It was he who was to give to the reign of Louis XIV its definite direction; his name was to be lastingly associated with the founding of the greater Versailles, and with the construction of the Louvre, the Tuileries, Fontainebleau and Saint-Germain. But Colbert's task in the enlargement of Versailles was no easy one, nor did he approve of it. He opposed the young King's purpose obstinately and expressed himself on the subject without reserve. "Your majesty knows," he wrote to the King, "that, apart from brilliant actions in war, nothing marks better the grandeur and genius of princes than their buildings, and that posterity measures them by the standard of the superb edifices that they erect during their lives. Oh, what a pity that the greatest king, and the most virtuous, should be measured by the standard of Versailles! And there is always this misfortune to fear."
But the King, like many another great monarch, had dreamed a dream. He was not satisfied with Paris as a residence. So he told Colbert to make his dream of Versailles come true—and Colbert had to find some way to pay the cost.
An irritating cause of the King's purpose lay in the fact that he was incited by the splendors of the chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, built by his ill-fated minister, Fouquet. Louis determined to surpass that mansion by one so much more elaborate as to crush it into insignificance. Nicholas Fouquet had employed the most renowned masters of this period—among them Louis Le Vau, the architect, Andre Le Notre, the landscape gardener, and Charles Lebrun, the decorator. These were the men the King summoned to transform the modest hunting villa of his father. At the truly gorgeous chateau of his minister, he had witnessed the full measure of their genius. On August 17, 1661, Fouquet gave an elaborate fete to celebrate the completion of the chateau, which the King attended. Within three weeks the host was a prisoner of State, accused of peculation in office. Acting immediately upon his resolution to out-do the glories of Vaux-le-Vicomte, Louis engaged Le Notre to plan gardens and Le Vau to submit proposals for the enlargement and decoration of the chateau. One of the first apartments completed was the chamber of the infant Dauphin—heir to the throne, who was born in November, 1661. Colbert reported in September, 1663, that in two years he had spent 1,500,000 pounds, and a good part of this sum was for the construction of the gardens. Builders and decorators suggested one elaborate project after another, without regard to the cost, despite the protest of Colbert to the King that they were exceeding all estimates and provisions. It was a paradise period for profiteers.
Versailles became a favorite retreat of the extravagant young sovereign. He frequently drove out from Paris, and on sundry occasions gave splendid balls and dinners.
For periods of increasing frequency the King was in residence at Versailles. He urged on the builders who had in hand the construction of the living-rooms, kitchens, stables; he supervised the placing of pictures and other decorative works in various parts of the expanded chateau; impatiently he chided the superintendents for delay and feverishly they strove to meet his demands for greater haste. And though every hour of haste cost the King of France a substantial sum, he cared for nothing but the fulfillment of his luxurious plans. Hundreds of laborers were engaged in laying out the orangery, the grand terrace, the fruit and vegetable gardens. The original entrance court was greatly enlarged. Long wings terminated by pavilions bordered it. On the right were the kitchens, with quarters for the domestics; on the left, the stables, where there were stalls for fifty-four horses. At the main entrance to the court were pavilions used by the musketeers as guard-houses. Those were bustling times at Versailles, and every day disclosed a new development and opened the way to new miracles of construction.
And the miracles were wrought, one after another—all by order of the King. On the site of the park a great terrace was bordered by a parterre in the shape of a half-moon, where a waterfall was later installed. A long promenade, now called the Allee Royale, extended to a vast basin named the Lake of Apollo. Streamlets were diverted to feed fountains. Twelve hundred and fifty orange trees were transported from the fallen estate of Vaux to fill the long arcades of the orangery.
In the midst of the activities of masons, carpenters, gardeners, the King was dominant, directing minute details—the laying of floors, the hanging of draperies, the installation of art works in the chapel. The restive master of the estate was impatient to enjoy his creation, and to invite his Court there to celebrate its completion with fetes both brilliant and costly. Colbert wrote in a letter dated September, 1663, of the beauty of the chateau's adornments—its Chinese filigree of gold and silver.
"Never," he swore, "had China itself seen so many examples of this work together—nor had all Italy seen so many flowers." Colbert suffered, but the King found royal satisfaction. The splendid scene of the Sun King must be set—the people had to pay. It was Colbert's affair to finance it.
The King commanded a series of fetes to be arranged. For eight days every diversion appropriate to the autumn season was enjoyed by the royal family and all the Court. Every day there were balls, ballets, comedies, concerts, promenades, hunts. Moliere and his troupe were commanded to appear in a new piece called "Impromptu de Versailles."
Colbert regretted the absorption of his sovereign in Versailles, "to the neglect of the Louvre—assuredly the most superb palace in the world." Louis tolerantly gave ear and inspected the Louvre, but to the building of Versailles he devoted all his enthusiasm.
The appearance of the villa erected by Louis XIII had been vastly altered as to its roofs, chimneys, facades. In 1665 the court was ornamented by the placing of the pedestals and busts that still surround it. In addition to the main edifice, the King gave orders for the building of small dwellings to be occupied by favorites of his entourage, and by musicians, actors and cooks. Three broad tree-lined avenues were laid out and the highway to Paris—the Cours-la-Reine—commenced. Already Versailles took on a more imposing aspect than ancient Fontainebleau. Workmen were constantly busy with the building of reservoirs, the laying of sod, the planting of labyrinths, hedges, secret paths and bosky retreats, with the setting out of hundreds of trees brought from Normandy, and the seeding of flower gardens of surpassing beauty. Ponds, fountains, grottoes, waterfalls and straying brooks came into being at the command of the ambitious young ruler. At some distance from the chateau courts and cages were constructed to shelter rare birds and animals. It was designed that this should be "the most splendid palace of animals in the world." The King decided the details of building and decoration and supervised the installation of the furred and feathered tenants of the palatial menagerie. This was the enclosure so greatly admired by La Fontaine, Racine and Boileau, during a visit to Versailles in 1668.
The first epoch of the construction of Louis XIV coincided with the first sculptural decoration of Versailles. A great number of works of art were ordered for the adornment of the walks and gardens. Many statues and busts of mythological subjects that were made at Rome to the order of Fouquet, after models by Nicolas Poussin, were removed from Vaux to Versailles. That was a thriving period for sculptors of France and adjacent countries. Records faithfully kept by Colbert detail expenditures of thousands of pounds of the nation's money for bronze vases, stone figures of nymphs and dryads and dancing fauns that were placed among the trees and fountains of Versailles. Much of the ornamental sculpture ordered at this time disappeared from the royal domain, as Louis XIV constantly demanded the work of the newest artists and all the novelties of the moment.
By the year 1668 Versailles apparently approached completion. It had then been seven years in building. But in 1669 the general character of the chateau was again changed. In the embellishments proposed by Le Vau, the architect, the royal domain became the scene of renewed activity, engendered by the King, then just turned thirty years of age, and eager to achieve still greater improvements at Versailles to mark the increasing prosperity of his reign. Half-finished buildings were demolished and begun anew. Immense structures arose, and once again artists flocked to Versailles. Inside the palace and in the park they wrought an elaborate scheme of decoration that made this the most sumptuous dwelling of the monarchy. In the words of Madame Scudery, an annalist of that epoch, Versailles, under the new orders of the King, became "incomparably more beautiful." Another Versailles was born; at the same time there was created a town on the vast acres purchased by the King, in the midst of which three great avenues were built, converging toward the chateau. In addition to the enlargement and improvement of the palace, the King ordered the erection of houses for the use of Colbert, now superintendent of the royal buildings, and for the officers of the Chancellery. From this time he interested himself particularly in the advancement of the infant town; he bought the village of "Old Versailles" and made liberal grants of land to individuals who agreed to build houses there. Opposite the chateau arose the mansions of illustrious nobles of the Court.
As the King remained obstinate in his determination that the "little chateau" of his father should not be removed to make room for a structure more in harmony with the surrounding ostentation, Le Vau covered over the moats and built around the lodge of Louis XIII with imposing effect. The new buildings containing the state apartments of the King and Queen and public salons were separated by great courts from the insignificant beginning of all this mounting splendor. Le Vau did not live to see the completion of the palace. He died in 1670. The work of reconstruction, in which the King maintained a lively interest whether at home or abroad, was continued by the architect's pupils at a cost of thousands of pounds. Eagerly Louis read plans and listened to reports. With still greater interest he attended the proposals of the great Mansard—nephew of the designer and builder who in 1650 revived the use of the "Mansard roof." When he succeeded as "first architect," Jules Mansard (or Mansart) first undertook the erection of quarters for the Bourbon princes. In the same year (1679) that he began the immense south wing for their use, he gave instructions for the building of the now historic Hall of Mirrors between two pavilions named—most appropriately in the light of after events—the Salon of Peace and the Salon of War. From the high arched windows of this glittering Grand Gallery great personages of past and present epochs have surveyed the gardens, fountains and broad walks that are the crowning glory of Versailles.
In the time of the Grand Monarque more than a thousand jets of water cast their silver spray against the greenery of hedge and grove. "Nothing is more surprising," said a chronicler of Louis the Fourteenth's reign, "than the immense quantity of water thrown up by the fountains when they all play together at the promenades of the King. These jets are capable of using up a river." A writer of our day bids us pause for a moment at the viewpoint in the gardens most admired by the King—at the end of the Allee of Latona. "To the east, beyond the brilliant parterre of Latona, with its fountains, its flowers, and its orange-trees, rise the vine-covered walls of the terraces, with their spacious flights of steps and their vividly green clipped yews. Turn to the west and survey the Royal Allee, the Basin of Apollo, and the Grand Canal, or look to the north to the Allee of Ceres, or to the south to that of Bacchus, and you realize the harmony that existed between Mansard and Le Notre in the decoration of the chateau and in the plan of the gardens." Beyond the palace and the surrounding gardens lay the park in which the Grand Trianon was built, of marble, near the bank of the Grand Canal. Madame de Maintenon, who became the King's second wife, was housed within these sumptuous walls, which were completed in 1688.
And so the construction of this miracle work of the Great Monarch went on. In Versailles, Louis was bent on realizing himself, and nothing but himself. The Pharaoh of Egypt built his pyramids with as little consideration of what it meant in tribute from his subjects. Each year took its toll in money and men to make this home of Louis the Magnificent. "The King," wrote Madame de Sevigne on the twelfth of October, 1678, "wishes to go on Saturday to Versailles, but it seems that God does not wish it, by the impossibility of putting the buildings in a state to receive him, and by the great mortality among the workmen." But the work had continued, as the King commanded, and when he finally entered into possession of his new palace in 1682 with all his Court, thirty-six thousand men and six thousand horses were still engaged in making matters comfortable and satisfactory for His Glorious Majesty. "The State," exclaimed the Sun King, "it is I!" and in the same mood he might have added, "Versailles—it is the State!"
THE LUXURY OF VERSAILLES
The Splendors of the Chateau—its Apartments and Gardens, the Hall of Mirrors
In planning the interior decorations at Versailles, the numerous company of artists employed by the sovereign devised a scheme of ornamentation inspired by the arts of ancient Rome. Mythological and historical subjects were utilized for the glorification of the Grand Monarch. A Description of the chateau, officially printed in 1674, gives us the key to the interpretation of the allegories. "As the Sun is the device of the King, and poets represent the Sun and Apollo as one, nothing exists in this superb dwelling that does not bear relation to the Sun divinity."
The emblem of Apollo was in evidence everywhere; signs of the month ornamented facades and walls; and inside the palace and out were symbols of the seasons and the hours of the day. The King's apartment bore on its ceiling and walls paintings depicting deeds of seven heroes of Antiquity, supported by Louis' planet emblem. All the interior decoration was Italian in style—marble wainscoting in window embrasures, floors of marble, panels of marble, doors of repousse bronze. The apartments of Anne of Austria and the Gallery of Apollo at the Louvre offered the first examples in France of this decorative style, and guided the artists at Versailles in making their plans.
Upon the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen alone, a dozen painters were engaged between the years 1671 and 1680. Charles Lebrun directed the artists, most of whom, be it said, were poor colorists. He himself worked on the vault above the Stairway of the Ambassadors and in the Hall of Mirrors. To imitate Italian works of art was at that time the avowed ideal of French decorators. At Rome the King's purse paid the expenses of a group of young artists who were allotted the task of copying designs that were later evolved at Versailles. To some was assigned the copying of ornaments made of metal, mosaic and inlay. Others specialized on bronze and wood-carving designs. There were painters who made only sketches of battle scenes and sieges. There were sculptors on the King's staff of copyists, and goldsmiths, and enamel workers. Flemish, Dutch, French, but principally Italian, craftsmen were recruited from the art centers of Europe, "for the glory of the King." At the Gobelin Tapestry Factory—a royal establishment—the workers were directed by Charles Lebrun, who for many years had been head of the "Royal Manufactory of Crown Furniture."
It was in the year 1677 that Louis XIV formally proclaimed Versailles his residence and the seat of Government. It was for the purpose of providing quarters for the Court and its attendants that Mansard was commanded to enlarge the chateau. Versailles now became, in truth, the temple of royalty. The newly appointed architect gave to the chateau its final aspect; the stamp of his genius rests upon the exterior design and interior embellishment of the most remarkable dwelling in the history of French architecture.
When the Court came to live at Versailles in May, 1682, Mansard and his builders were still feverishly occupied in the work of construction and reconstruction. The year 1684 saw the end of the ornamentation of the interior in the completion of the Hall of Mirrors. Mansard's style is particularly impressed upon the Marble Stairway, and the adjacent Hall of the Queen's Guards, and, above all, on the Grand Gallery of the Mirrors and the Salons (Peace and War) that flank it—works truly impressive in their proportions, adornment and arrangement.
Disposed about three sides of the main court, the red chateau was set low on a slight rise of land. The main entrance was flanked by the North Wing and the South Wing, interrupted throughout their length by lesser courts. The domed chapel upreared to the right of the gate was the fourth one to serve the palace. After a period of building lasting ten years it was consecrated in the year 1710. The exquisite white stone edifice is still regarded as an architectural gem. Its interior embellishments were carried out by some of the best artists of the Sun King's epoch. Here during the last years of his long and spectacular reign, Louis the Great worshiped. Here Marie Antoinette was married to the Sixteenth Louis.
Arrivals at the palace were admitted from the Place d'Armes to the court designated for their reception. Only the King and his family might enter by the central gate. Nobles passed through the gates at the side. Privileged persons were permitted to alight in the Royal Court; those of inferior prestige in the Court of the Ministers, which gave entrance to the offices and living quarters of the palace executives and the hundreds of minions composing the King's retinue. On the left of the enclosure called the Marble Court was the vestibule to the Marble Stairway; opposite was the doorway leading to the renowned Stairway of the Ambassadors, later removed by command of Louis XV. The royal suites, except those of the Dauphin and his attendants, were on the second floor. These rooms beneath the ornate Mansard attic were the scene of all the potent events and ceremonies that have distinguished Versailles above the palaces of the world.
Grouped above the Marble Court at the far end of the main court of the chateau, were the State Apartments of the King. Though, in later times, the sequence of some of these salons was changed, in the years when the Sun King occupied them they comprised the Salon of Venus, opening upon the Ambassadors' Staircase, the Salon of Diana, the Salon of Mars, and the Salon of Mercury. These halls formed a magnificent prelude to the still greater magnificence of the Salon of Apollo,—the Throne Room where guests came into the presence of the King himself. The Salon of Venus was most admired for its marble mosaics and its ceiling painting representing Venus subduing all the other deities. In Louis' day, as now, the royal master of all this grandeur was here portrayed in white marble, garbed in the robes of a Roman emperor. Diana and her nymphs were depicted on the ceiling of the salon named for the Goddess of the Hunt. Here under candles glimmering in sconces of silver and crystal the courtiers engaged in games of billiards, while their ladies disposed themselves gracefully upon tapestried seats. And there were orange trees in silver tubs to add brilliance to the scene. In the Salon of Mars dancing parties and concerts were given. Silver punchbowls set on silver tables offered refreshment to the gay throng that coquetted and danced and applauded beneath the triumphant picture of Mars limned upon the ceiling. This room was a-glitter with silver, cut glass and gold embroidered draperies. In the crimson-hung Salon of Mercury was the King's bed of state, before which was a balustrade of silver. In all the Grand Apartments were hangings and furniture of extraordinary richness. There were tables of gilded wood and mosaic, Florentine marbles, pedestals of porphyry for vases of precious metal, ebony cabinets inlaid with copper, columns of jasper, agate and lapis lazuli, silver chandeliers, branched candle-sticks, baskets, vessels for liqueurs, silver perfuming pans. Windows were draped with silver brocade worked in gold thread, with Venetian silks and satins, or embroideries from the Gobelin studios. On the floors, originally of marble, were spread carpets woven in designs symbolical of kingly power.
The Throne Room known as the Salon of Apollo—the seat of the Sun King—was of the utmost richness. The throne itself was of silver and stood eight feet high. Tapestries represented scenes of splendor in the life of Louis the Great and on the walls were masterpieces by Italian artists of the first rank, which were later deemed worthy of a place in the Louvre. Much of the treasure vanished in the years 1689-1690 when the King was constrained to raise money for his depleted treasury. In December, 1682, the Mercure Galant, desirous of pleasing its readers, always avid of details about everything that concerned their King, published a long description of the furnishings of the State Apartments—the velvet hangings, the marble walls enriched with gold relief, the chimney-pieces bossed with silver.
Yet the glory of these apartments was outdone by the later achievements of architect and decorators in the Salons of War and Peace and the Hall of Mirrors that joins them. In the cupola of the Salon of War the great Lebrun painted an allegorical picture of France hurling thunderbolts and carrying a shield blazoned with the portrait of King Louis, while Bellona, Spain, Holland and Germany are shown crouching in awe. The colored marbles of the walls contrasted brilliantly with gilded copper bas-reliefs. Six portraits of Roman emperors contributed to the impressiveness of the Salon, and on the wall was a stucco relief of the King of France on horseback, clad like a Roman. The Salon of Peace was also decorated by Lebrun's adept brush. A ceiling piece portrays France and her conquered enemies rejoicing in the fruits of Peace. And, again, there are portraits of the ever-present Louis and the Caesars of Rome. Both these splendid halls remain to-day much as they were in the time of their creator.
Most lavish is the decoration of the Grand Hall of Mirrors—"the epitome of absolutism and divine right and the grandeur of the House of Bourbon." For two hundred and forty feet it extends along the terrace that surveys the gardens where Louis XIV and his successors delighted to ordain fetes of unimaginable gayety. Gorgeously costumed courtiers, women that dictated the fate of dynasties, diplomats of our day bent upon the solution of world-rocking problems, all have gazed from this resplendent gallery upon the fountains and allees that beautify the scene below. Seventeen lofty windows are matched by as many Venetian framed mirrors. Between each window and each mirror are pilasters designed by Coyzevox, Tubi and Caffieri—reigning masters of their time. Walls are of marble embellished with bronze-gilt trophies; large niches contain statues in the antique style. The gilded cornice is by Coyzevox, the ceiling by Lebrun. The conception of the latter comprises more than a score of paintings representing events that had to do with wars waged by Louis the Great against Holland, Germany and Spain. In the period when Versailles was the residence of kings—not a museum, alone, and the assembly-place of international Councils—the tables in the Grand Gallery, the benches between the windows, the many-branched candelabra, the tubs in which orange trees grew, were all of heavy silver. Thousands of wax candles lighted the salon, some of them set in immense chandeliers, others in lusters of silver and crystal. But Louis the Fourteenth's reign was not yet over when he was compelled to send many hundred pieces of his precious furniture to the mint, and the superb appointments of the Hall of Mirrors were partially substituted by furnishings of wood and damask.
Visitors to Versailles view the private or "little" apartments of King Louis the Great, Louis XV and Louis XVI. The superb bedchamber of Louis XIV contains the bed in which the French Monarch died on September 1, 1715. In an ante-chamber, later called the Bull's Eye by reason of its unique oval window, courtiers were wont to gossip and intrigue while they awaited the King's rising. A quaint painting by a French artist presents Louis XIV and his family in the character of pagan deities. Next to the Bull's Eye was the room in which the King dined on occasion. The Hall of the King's Guards was near of approach to the Marble Staircase and to the ample and ornate apartments of Madame de Maintenon. The wonders of this Hall are also departed. In a group of small rooms were rich stores of objects of art, medals, cameos, onyx, bronzes, and gems of great value.
The State Apartments of the Queens of France were entirely altered in their decoration as one queen succeeded another. Marie Therese was the first to occupy them. We are told that before her bed there stood a railing of silver, that later gave way, for economical reasons, to one carved in wood. In the Grand Cabinet the wife of Louis the Great received in audience those that the King commanded. Here, at the end of a short and insignificant period as mistress of Versailles, Marie Therese died, July 30, 1683.
One of the few apartments that still retains the aspect it bore in King Louis the Fourteenth's reign is the Hall of the Queen's Guards, which had a door on the landing of the marble stair, also called the Queen's Staircase. This was the flight of steps most used in the time of Louis, since it led to the apartments of the sovereign, the Queen Madame de Maintenon.
The Ambassadors' Staircase, across the court, was of the richest possible decoration, but like the glory of the Kings of France, it has passed into oblivion. Louis commanded that it be paved and walled in marble from the choicest quarries, vaulted with bronze, graced by fountains. Amazing frescoes representing a brilliant assemblage of people of all nations adorned the walls. Of this staircase a reporter of the epoch wrote, "When full of light it vies in magnificence with the richest apartments of the most beautiful palace in the world." Which palace was, of course, Versailles.
The Grand Hall of the Guards, the apartments of the Children of France and their governess, the ten rooms that composed the suite of the Dauphin, the Grand Hall of Battles—each had its special decoration. "At the house of Monseigneur," wrote an old chronicler of the Court, "one sees in the cabinets an exquisite collection of all that is most rare and precious, not only in respect to the necessary furniture, tables, porcelains, mirrors, chandeliers, but also paintings by the most famous masters, bronzes, vases of agate, jewels and cameos." For one dazzling table of carved silver in the apartment of the King's son, the silversmith that fashioned it was paid thirty thousand dollars.
Beneath the state apartments of the King was the Hall of the Baths lined with marble and adorned with beautiful paintings. Upon the marble tubs, the tessellated floors, the gilded columns and mirrors of this apartment a great sum was expended.
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Versailles at last was finished—and what a spectacle and monument to selfish exaltation it was! "There is an intimate relation between the King and his chateau," wrote Imbert de Saint-Amand. "The idol is worthy of the temple, the temple of the idol. There is always something immaterial, something moral so to speak, in monuments, and they derive their poesy from the thought connected with them. For a cathedral, it is the idea of God. For Versailles, it is the idea of the King. Its mythology is but a magnificent allegory of which Louis XIV is the reality. It is he always and everywhere. Fabulous heroes and divinities impart their attributes to him or mingle with his courtiers. In honor of him, Neptune sheds broadcast the waters that cross in air in sparkling arches. Apollo, his favorite symbol, presides over this enchanted world as the god of light, the inspirer of the muses; the sun of the god seems to pale before that of the great King. Nature and art combine to celebrate the glory of the sovereign by a perpetual hosannah. All that generations of kings have amassed in pictures, statues and precious movables is distributed as mere furniture in the glittering apartments of the chateau. The intoxicating perfumes of luxury and power throw one into a sort of ecstasy that makes comprehensible the exaltation of this monarch, enthusiastic over himself, who, in chanting the hymns composed in his praise, shed tears of admiration."
THE GARDENS, THE FOUNTAINS AND THE GRAND TRIANON
The first gardens of Versailles—those that gave a modest setting to the villa constructed for Louis XIII, comprised a few parterres of flowers and shrubs bounded by well trimmed box hedges, and two groves planted on each side of the Allee Royale. To Jacques Boyceau is accredited the first plan of the gardens of Versailles, but Andre Le Notre greatly amplified and improved the original scheme. Le Notre's achievements at Versailles gave him rank as the most distinguished landscape gardener of his time, and of all time.
Besides the luxurious and symmetrical gardens at Versailles, he originated the designs of those at the royal houses at Trianon, Saint-Cloud, Merly, Clagny, Chantilly and the Tuileries. The Parterre of the Tiber at Fontainebleau also added to his high reputation. For a long period the style of garden perfected by Le Notre was taken as a model and imitated throughout Europe. In 1678 he went to Italy on a mission for the King, who desired him to make researches there. While at Rome the eminent artist from France was commissioned to plan the gardens of the Quirinal, the Vatican and the villas Ludovisi and Albani. The Elector of Brandenburg summoned him to design the garden at Oranienburg; Kensington Park in London is still another example of Le Notre's skill. In his genius were reflected the qualities that distinguished the art of his century: regularity of design, harmony, dignity and richness of materials. Louis XIV had an enduring admiration for the work and character of the Chief Gardener—a man at all times honest, retiring, and inspired by enthusiasm for his calling.
We are told by a French chronicler that "when Le Notre had traced out his ideas, he brought Louis XIV to the spot to judge the distribution of the principal parts of their ornamentation. He began with two grand basins which are on the terrace in front of the chateau, with their magnificent decorations. He explained next his idea of the double flight of stairs, which is opposite the center of the palace, adorned with yew-trees and with statues, and gave in detail all the pieces that were to enrich the space that it included. He passed then to the Allee du Tapis Vert, and to that grand place where we see the head of the canal, of which he described the size and shape, and at the extremities of whose arms he placed the Trianon and the Menagerie. At each of the grand pieces whose position Le Notre marked, and whose future beauties he described, Louis XIV interrupted him, saying, 'Le Notre, I give you twenty thousand francs.' This magnificent approbation was so frequently repeated that it annoyed Le Notre, whose soul was as noble and disinterested as that of his master was generous. At the fourth interruption he stopped, and said brusquely to the King, 'Sire, Your Majesty shall hear no more. I shall ruin you.'"
In 1695 the King ennobled Le Notre and bestowed upon him the Order of St. Michael. Later, Le Notre presented to his sovereign his collection of pictures and bronzes, for which he had previously received an offer of 80,000 francs, or about $16,000. This collection was placed in one of the King's intimate rooms among the rarest objects in his possession. On occasion, when about to make a tour of the gardens, Louis liked to command a rolling chair similar to his own for the aged Le Notre. Discussing new projects, appraising those that were finished, they made the promenade together.
One of the first garden decorations undertaken was the Grotto of Thetis, a green alcove beautified by exquisite marbles and a fountain that stirred the muse of La Fontaine to sing. This graceful conceit, dominated by Apollo seated among the nymphs of Venus, was destroyed when Mansard built the north wing of the palace; the groups were removed to adorn other sites. While the vast pleasure-house was in course of construction, each year marked the creation of new fountains and woods. In 1664, the Parterre du Nord was laid out below the windows of the north wing; in 1667 and 1668 the Theatre d'Eau, the Maze, the Star, the Grand Canal, the Avenue of Waters, the Cascade of Diana and the Pyramid on the North Parterre, and the Green Carpet (Tapis-Vert) spread out in view of the windows of the rear facade of the palace. In 1670 and the three succeeding years the low-lying Marais (fen) was constructed next to the Parterre of the Fountain of Latona, to meet the wishes of the King's favorite, Madame de Montespan. While she was in power "people spoke of the Marais as one of the marvels of the gardens, but it was undoubtedly considered less wonderful after her fall," a writer comments. "In the center stood a large oak surounded by an artificial marsh, bordered with reeds and grasses, and containing plants and a number of white swans. From the swans, from the reeds and grasses, and from the leaves and branches of the oak, thousands of little jets of water leaped forth, falling like fine rain upon the masses of natural vegetation that flourished amid the artificial. At the sides of the bosquet there were two tables of marble, on which a collation was served when the marquise came to her grove to see the waters play. In 1704 the King ordered Mansard to destroy the Marais and transform the bosquet into the Baths of Apollo."
In 1674 the Royal Isle came into being; and the next year the Arch of Triumph and the Three Fountains, between the Avenue of Waters and the chateau. In the thicket of the Three Fountains were "an immense number of small jets of water, leaping from basins at the sides and forming an arch of water overhead, beneath which one could walk without being wet. . . . The Arch of Triumph filled the end of the bosquet; it was placed on an estrade with marble steps, and was preceded by four lofty obelisks of gilded iron in which the water leaped and fell in sheets of crystal. The fountain itself was composed of three porticos of gilded iron, with large jets in the center of each, while seven jets leaped up from the basins above the porticos, and all the waters rushed down over the steps of marble. In addition, twenty-two vases at the sides of the bosquet threw jets into the air. 'Without having seen it,' says Blondel, 'it is impossible to imagine the wonderful effect produced by this decoration.'"
The Orangery was the chief work begun in 1678, and in the following year the superb Basin of Neptune and the Lake of the Swiss Guards were commenced. In the years 1680-1685 workmen were busy digging, laying pipes, planting and decorating the Salle de Bal, or outdoor salon of festivities, the Parterre of Fountains, and the Colonnade, where amid marble columns and balustrades the Court often came to sup and make merry.
In all, fourteen hundred gushing fountain jets animated the gardens. Le Notre, the author of these amazing water-works, died in the year 1700, when almost ninety years of age. Saint-Simon declared him justly renowned in that he had given to France gardens of so unique and ravishing a design that they completely outran in beauty the famous gardens of Italy. European landscape decorators counted it part of their education to journey to France for the purpose of studying the handiwork of the supreme craftsman.
An illustrated guide, printed at Amsterdam in 1682, contains the following quaint description of the Labyrinth, or Maze: "Courteous Reader," it begins, "it is sufficiently known how eminently France and especially the Royal Court doth excel above other places with all manner of delights. The admirable faire Buildings and Gardens with all imaginable ornaments and delightful spectacles represent to the eye of the beholder such abundant and rich objects as verily to ravish the spectator. Amongst all these works there is nothing more admirable and praiseworthy than the Royal Garden at Versailles, and, in it, the Labyrinth. Other representations are commonly esteemed because they please the eye, but this because it not only delights the ear and eye, but also instructs and edifies. This Labyrinth is situated in a wood so pleasant that Daedalus himself would have stood amazed to behold it. The Turnings and Windings, edged on both sides with green cropt hedges, are not at all tedious, by reason that at every hand there are figures and water-works representing the mysterious and instructive fables of Aesop, with an explanation of what Fable each Fountain representeth carved on each in black marble. Among all the Groves in the Park at Versailles the Labyrinth is the most to be recommended, as well for the novelty of the design as the number and diversity of the fountains that with ingenuity and naivete express the philosophies, of the sage Aesop. The animals of colored bronze are so modeled that they seem truly to be in action. And the streams of water that come from their mouths may be imagined as bearing the words of the fable they represent. There are a great number of fountains, forty in all, each different in subject, and of a style of decoration that blends with the surrounding verdure. At the entrance to the Maze is a bronze statue of Aesop himself—the famous Mythologist of Phrygia."
To appreciate the engineering skill of the directors of fountain construction at Versailles it must be remembered that it was from an arid plateau that hundreds of streams were made to spring from the earth. Thousands of laborers were employed to lay beneath the surface of the ground a net-work of canals and aqueducts to receive the tribute of water-courses directed hither from distant sources. The waters were finally pumped into immense reservoirs adroitly dissembled on the roofs of buildings overlooking the park. From these tanks a maze of pipes carried the water to thickets, grottoes, basins, fountains and canals. Nothing could surpass the ingenuity with which all this was contrived. The play of water directed to the Basin of the Mirrors reappeared later in the Baths of Apollo and the Fountain of the Dragon. Flowing in turn among successive pools and ornamental groups—branching hither and yon in the gardens, the stream attained its full display in the most majestic effect of all, the Basin of Neptune.
"Here again is the hand of Le Notre," remarks James Farmer, author of "Versailles and the Court Under Louis XIV." "The basin of Neptune, called at first the Grand Cascades, was constructed from 1679 to 1684, in accordance with his designs. This immense basin, surrounded on the side toward the chateau by a handsome wall of stone, and on the other by an amphitheater of turf and trees,—a vast half-circle, in the center of which stands a marble statue of Renown, is simple in conception and imposing from its size. The richly carved lead vases which adorn the wall were gilded under the Grand Monarch, and each throws a jet of water to a great height. Dangeau tells us that His Majesty saw the waters play here for the first time on the 17th of May, 1685, and that he was quite content. However, Neptune had not then appeared in the basin that now bears his name; for the large groups of Neptune, the Ocean, and the Tritons, which ornament the base of the wall at present, were not put in place until 1739, in the reign of Louis XV. This majestic basin at the foot of the Allee d'Eau is a striking contrast to Perrault's ugly Pyramid at the head of it. Le Notre knew what was fitting for the gardens of a Sun King."
A vast avenue, interrupted by many fair reaches of water, stretched its level length before the windows of the Grand Gallery. It was prolonged to the outer bounds of the gardens by the Grand Canal, on whose gleaming surface the sky was mirrored in the dusk of dawn, the golden glow of noon, or the sunset of declining day. This has ever been the supreme view from the palace of Versailles. Standing at one of the great windows of the Hall of Mirrors, the Galerie des Glaces, it often pleased the ruler of France to admire the Fountain of Latona, casting its fifty jets of water from the circular pool below the twin terraces. Beyond, the Green Carpet glowed in its emerald beauty among the clear waters of Versailles. The furthest fountain that met the eye was the Basin of Apollo, with its plunging bronze horses. In the outer park, that held the Trianon and the Menagerie, the royal gaze beheld the cross-shaped Canal which so often, in the revels that marked the first part of this reign, bore gay Venetian barges between the scintillating lights and fireworks that illumined the shore. At the right side, still looking from the rear of the chateau, the King's beauty-loving eyes dwelt upon the North Terrace, with its rich growth of greenery, on the graceful Fountains of the Pyramid and the Dragon, and above all on the magnificently soaring fountains of Neptune's Basin. At his left were the Terrace of Flowers, the two stairways that flanked the Orangery, chief work of Mansard and especial pride of Louis, and the lake in the small park named for the Swiss Guards. Nowhere, it is safe to say, could a place be found that embraced so many beautiful garden views at one time.
Bordering the avenue that Le Notre opened through the primitive groves where Louis XIII once came to hunt—on either side the broad lane of trees and leaping waters—groves were laid out, varied in design and decoration—delectable retreats where lovers, traitors, diplomats might vow and plot, beneath the discreet ears of marble nymphs and goddesses.
Many of the groups and marble figures that beautified the walks and bowers of Versailles were conceived by the gifted Lebrun. Among his designs were the Four Seasons, the Four Quarters of the Globe, the Four Kinds of Poetry (Heroic, Satiric, Lyric and Pastoral), the Four Periods of the Day (Morning, Noon, Twilight, Night), the Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), the Four Temperaments (Phlegmatic, Melancholy, Coleric and Sanguine). Mythological figures, vases ornamented with bas-reliefs of Louis XIV and great men of his reign, fountain groups representing the chief rivers of France, water nymphs, sportive babies, beasts in combat—sculpture massive, graceful, grotesque—all added their individual lure to the dells, the walks and the terraces of the magic palace.
Tile-workers from Flanders, marble-cutters from the Pyrenees, Italy and Greece, masons, sculptors, castmen, metal-workers, bronze colorists—innumerable artisans trained to meet the exacting tastes of that Silver Age of Art—lent their skill to the construction of fountains whose ingenuity and variety have set a standard for all time for the makers of kingly estates. A hundred sculptors of highest reputation were engaged to model groups, statues, busts and low reliefs for the Versailles park, under the supervision of Lebrun and Mignard.
Ladies of the Court sometimes claimed the ear of the compliant Andre Le Notre to suggest fancies that he graciously evolved with greenery and marbles, with tinkling streams and bright-winged birds.
The new Orangery, begun by Mansard on plans submitted by Le Notre, consumed nearly ten years in building, from 1678 to 1687. Twin stairways, one hundred and three steps high, united the South Parterre with the Parterre of the Orangery. The shelter erected for the protection of hundreds of orange trees, which often blossomed and came to fruit, contained a main gallery and two lateral galleries, lighted by twelve large windows. In the center stood a huge statue of Louis the Great. During warm weather the tubs containing the orange trees were set out on the Orange Parterre between the lofty stone stairways. The Orangery was one of the favorite retreats of the King. Besides the royal family, only those were permitted to stroll among the fragrant trees that had been granted special permission to do so.
It was in 1688, after more than a quarter of a century's labor, the sacrifice of hundreds of lives, and the expenditure of over fifty million francs, that the splendid parks and gardens with their buildings and fountains were finally achieved. Le Notre's successors rearranged some of the fountains and groves; others were renamed. In 1739-1740 there were placed near the Basin of Neptune three groups that still lend adornment to this spot. This was the final attempt to decorate the gardens during the reign of the House of the Bourbons. Strangers from every clime marveled at the beauty of the fountains. The ambassadors from the Court of Siam were astounded "that so much of bronze, marble and gilded metal could find place in a single garden." A member of the train of the Ambassador from England described the park, in 1698, as "a whole province traced by avenues, paths, canals, and ornamented in all ways possible by masterpieces of ancient and modern art."
The avenues were of white sand, with grassy by-ways on either side bordered by elms and iron railings six or seven feet high. Beyond these were thickets and niches where statues, sculptured urns and benches of white carved stone were placed. Occasional archways of green led down dim arbors to new enchantments. Here and there were round or star-shaped retreats whose carpets of grass were sprayed by murmuring fountains. In each recess were marble pedestals, busts, a long bench that invited repose.
Trees of mature growth were brought in great numbers from distant parts of France and Flanders. Despite difficulties of transportation, twenty-five thousand trees were carried on wagons from Artois alone. The forests of Normandy were denuded of yew-trees; from the mountains of Dauphine the King's emissaries brought epicea trees, and India sent chestnut trees for the adornment of Versailles.
Among these groves Louis delighted to promenade in the evening, sometimes, in the belle saison, until midnight. Often he went on foot, but oftener in a light carriage drawn by a team of small black horses that had been given him by the Duke of Tuscany.
THE GRAND TRIANON
This palace decorated with pilasters of pink marble was not the first building chosen by the Grand Monarch to occupy the site at the end of the north arm of the canal of Versailles. Ambitious to extend his domain, the King had purchased and razed a shabby little village named Trianon, and on its somewhat dreary site erected for Madame de Montespan a villa so unpretentious as to arouse the comment of courtiers accustomed to the ruler's profligacy at Versailles. The vases of faience that shone among the figures of gilded lead, the walk ornamented with Dutch tiles, the cornices of blue and white stucco, in the Chinese fashion, gave the little house the name, the Porcelain Trianon. Poets called it the Palace of Flora because of the wondrous gardens where rare flowers perfumed the pleasaunce in summer. Built in 1670, probably on designs of Francois Le Vau, the Porcelain Trianon was demolished toward the end of the year 1686.
There remains to-day nothing to remind us of the Villa of Flowers but the gardens and a fountain for horses near the canal, where a terrace planted with beautiful trees overlooks it. Here Louis XIV often came in a gondola on summer evenings, when the Marble Trianon had replaced the Trianon of Porcelain. The latter's demolition was inspired, no doubt, by the urging of the new favorite, Madame de Maintenon, who found distasteful this reminder of another's supremacy in the King's affections.
Moreover, this site continued to please the King for he recognized its convenience to the palace, and its accessibility by barge or carriage. He determined to build in the midst of these enchanting woods and blooms a dwelling less formal than the one at Versailles, smaller even than the one at Marly, but more habitable than the porcelain maisonette—a retreat, in short, where, without wearisome ceremony, he could retire with certain favored ones of his Court and while the summer hours away.
The accounts of the King's treasurer show that the building of the edifice and the gardens proceeded rapidly during the year 1687. By the end of November the royal master found his new residence "well advanced and very beautiful." Soon after the New Year he heard the opera "Roland" performed here, and was pleased to dine for the first time within the new walls. He gave orders on recurring visits for the embellishment of the summer palace. The Trianon of marble and porphyry, "the most graceful production of Mansard," was finally completed in the autumn of 1688. But the work of decoration went on under the hands of a horde of artists almost until the end of the monarch's reign.
Says an English author of a century ago: "In the midst of all the austerities imposed upon him by the ambition of Madame de Maintenon, the King went to Trianon to inhale the breath of the flowers which he had planted there, of the rarest and most odoriferous kind. On the infrequent occasions when the Court was permitted to accompany him thither to share in his evening collation, it was a beautiful spectacle to see so many charming women wandering in the midst of the flowers on the terrace rising from the banks of the canal. The air was so rich with the mingled perfume of violets, orange flowers, jessamines, tuberoses, hyacinths and narcissuses that the King and his visitors were sometimes obliged to fly from the overpowering sweets. The flowers in the parterres were arranged in a thousand different figures, which were constantly changed, so that one might have supposed it to be the work of some fairy, who, passing over the gardens, threw upon them each time a new robe aglow with color."
In the salons and copses where Louis the Great basked in the somewhat chary smiles of his latest (and last) favorite, his grandson, the fifteenth of his name, was to install the fascinating Madame de Pompadour. The very apartments once dedicated to the use of Madame de Maintenon, and later to Queen Marie Leczinska, became the living-rooms of the reigning mistress of the heart of Louis XV.
The Revolution spared the Grand Trianon. But under pretext of restoring it and rendering it, according to their tastes, more habitable, Napoleon First and Louis Philippe spared it less. The last king of France commanded in 1836 the architectural changes necessary to convert the Trianon into the royal residence, in place of the chateau of Versailles. He stayed here for the last time in the winter of 1848, before departing for Dreux. But, despite changes and mutilations, the facade and the interior of the rose-colored palace retain the stamp of the Great King who sponsored the Gallery of Mirrors, the Antechamber of the Bull's Eye, and the Chapel at Versailles.
A DAY WITH THE SUN KING
Louis the Magnificent, we must agree with that profuse and sharp-witted chronicler, the Duke of Saint-Simon, was made for a brilliant Court. "In the midst of other men, his figure, his courage, his grace, his beauty, his grand mien, even the tone of his voice and the majestic and natural charm of all his person, distinguished him till his death as the King Bee, and showed that if he had been born only a simple private gentleman, he would have excelled in fetes, pleasures and gallantry. . . . He liked splendor, magnificence and profusion in everything. Nobody ever approached his magnificence."
With sumptuous detail the King's day progressed at Versailles, from the formal "rising" to the hour when, with equal pomp, the monarch went to bed. Before eight o'clock in the morning the waiting-room next the King's bedchamber was the gathering-place of princes, nobles and officers of the Court, each fresh from his own laving and be-wigging. While they passed the time in low converse, the formal ceremony of the King's awakening took place behind the gold and white doors of the royal sleeping-room. "The Chamber," one of the eleven offices in the service of the King, comprised four first gentlemen of the Chamber, twenty-four gentlemen of the Chamber, twenty-four pages of the Chamber, four first valets of the Chamber, sixteen ushers, thirty-two valets of the Chamber, two cloak-bearers, two gun-bearers, eight barbers, three watch-makers, one dentist, and many minor attendants—all under the direction of the Grand Chamberlain.
A few minutes before eight o'clock it was the duty of the chief valet de chambre to see that a fire was laid in the King's chamber (if the weather required one), that blinds were drawn, and candles snuffed. As the clock chimed the hour of eight, he approached the embroidered red velvet curtains of the royal bed with the announcement, "Sire, it is the hour."
When the curtains were drawn and the royal eyelids lifted upon a new day, the children of the King were admitted to make their morning obeisance. The chief physician and surgeon and the King's old nurse then entered to greet the waking monarch. While they performed certain offices allotted them, the Grand Chamberlain was summoned. The first valet de chambre took his place by the bed and, holding a silver basin beneath the King's hands, poured on them spirits of wine from a flagon. The Grand Chamberlain next presented the vase of Holy Water to the King, who accepted it and made the Sign of the Cross. Opportunity was given at this moment for the princes, or any one having the grande entree, to speak to the King, after which the Grand Chamberlain offered to His Majesty a prayer-book, and all present passed from the room except those privileged to stay for the brief religious service that followed.
Surrounded by princes, nobles and high officers attached to his person, the King chose his wig for the day, put on the slippers and dressing-gown presented by the appointed attendant, and stepped outside the massive balustrade that surrounded his bed. Now the doors opened to admit those that had the right to be present while the King donned his silk stockings and diamond-buckled garters and shoes—acts that he performed "with address and grace." On alternate days, when his night-cap had been removed, the nobles and courtiers were privileged to see the King shave himself, while a mirror, and, if the morning was dull, lighted candles were held before his face by the first valet de chambre. Occasionally His Majesty briefly addressed some one in the room. The assemblage was, by this time, augmented by the admission of secretaries and officers attached to the palace, whose position entitled them to the "first entree." When his wig was in place and the dressing of the royal person had proceeded at the hands of officers of the Wardrobe (there were, in all, sixty persons attached to this service), the King spoke the word that opened the ante-chamber doors to the cardinals, ambassadors and government officials that awaited the ceremony of the grand lever, or "grand rising," so-called in distinction to the more intimate petit lever. Altogether, no less than one hundred and fifty persons were present while the King went through the daily ceremony of the rising and the toilet.
When the Sovereign of France had breakfasted on a service of porcelain and gold, had permitted his sword and his jeweled orders to be fastened on, and, from proffered baskets of cravats and handkerchiefs, had made his choice; when he had prayed by his bedside with cardinals and clergy in attendance; had granted brief informal interviews, and had attended mass in the chapel of Versailles, it was his custom to ask for the Council. Thrice a week there was a council of State, and twice a week a finance council. Thus the mornings passed, with the exception of Thursday morning, when His Majesty gave "back-stair" audiences known to but a few, and Friday morning, which was spent with his confessor.
Louis was always a busy man of affairs and never shirked his kingly duties. It was a principle of his life to place duty first and pleasure after. He told his son in his memoirs that an idle king showed ingratitude toward God and injustice toward man. "The requirements and demands of royalty," he wrote, "which may, at times, appear hard and irksome, you should find easy and agreeable in high places. Nothing will exhaust you more than idleness. If you tire of great affairs, and give up to pleasures, you will soon be disgusted with your own idleness. To take in the whole world with intelligent eyes, to be learning constantly what is going on in the provinces and among other nations—the court secrets, the habits, the weaknesses of princes and foreign ministers, to see clearly what all people are trying, to their utmost, to conceal, to fathom the most deep-seated thoughts and convictions of those that attend us in our own court—what greater pleasure and satisfaction could there be, if we were simply prompted by curiosity?"
Ordinarily, when at Versailles, the King dined alone at one o'clock, seated by the middle window of his chamber, overlooking the courtyards, the Place d'Armes, and the long avenue that led to Paris. More than three hundred persons,—stewards, chefs, butlers, gentlemen servants, carvers, cup-bearers, table-setters, cellarers, gardeners,—were charged with the care of the kitchens, pantries, cellars, fruit-lofts, store-rooms, linen closets, and treasuries of gold and silver plate belonging to the King's immediate household—the Maison du Roi. The Officers of the Goblet were present when the King was served, having first, with attendant ceremonies, "made the trial" of napkins and table implements as a safeguard from evil designs against his life. Even the simplest repast served to the King comprised many dishes, for the Grand Monarch ate heartily, though with discriminating appetite.
Unless the Sovereign dined in the privacy of his bed-chamber, he was surrounded by princes and courtiers. At "public dinners" a procession of well-dressed persons continually passed through the room to observe the King at his dining.
It was ordained that the King's meat should be brought to the table from the kitchens in the Grand Commune after this manner: "Two of His Majesty's guards will march first, followed by the usher of the hall, the maitre d'hotel with his baton, the gentleman servant of the pantry, the controller-general, the controller clerk of the Office, and others who carry the Meat, the equerry of the kitchen and the guard of the plates and dishes, and behind them two other guards of His Majesty, who are to allow no one to approach the Meat.
"In the Office called the Bouche, the equerry of the Kitchen arranges the dishes upon a table, and presents two trials of bread to the maitre d'hotel, who makes the trial of the first course, and who, having placed the meats for the trial upon these two trials of bread, gives one to the equerry of the Kitchen, who eats it, while the other is eaten by the maitre d'hotel. Afterward the gentleman servant takes the first dish, the second is taken by the controller, and the other officers of the Kitchen take the rest. They advance in this order: the maitre d'hotel, having his baton, marches at the head, preceded some steps by the usher of the hall, carrying his wand, which is the sign of his office, and in the evening bearing a torch as well. When the Meat, accompanied by three of the body-guards with carbines on their shoulders, has arrived (that is, in the first antechamber, where the King is to dine), the maitre d'hotel makes a reverence to the nef. The gentleman servant, holding the first dish, places it upon the table where the nef is, and having received a trial portion from the gentleman servant in charge of the trial table, he makes the trial himself and places his dish upon the trial table. The gentleman servant having charge of this table takes the other dishes from the hands of those who carry them, and places them also on the trial table. After the trial of them has been made they are carried by the other gentlemen servants to the table of the King.
"The first course being on the table, the maitre d'hotel with his baton, preceded by the usher of the hall with his wand, goes to inform the King; and when His Majesty has arrived at table the maitre d'hotel presents a wet napkin to him, of which trial has been made in the presence of the officer of the Goblet, and takes it again from the King's hands. During the dinner the gentleman servant in charge of the trial table continues to make trial in the presence of the officers of the Goblet and of the Kitchen of all that they bring for each course.
"When His Majesty desires to drink, the cup-hearer cries at once in a loud tone, 'The drink for the King!' makes a reverence to the King, and goes to the sideboard to take from the hands of the chief of the Wine-cellars the salver and cup of gold, and the two crystal decanters of wine and water. He returns, preceded by the chiefs of the Goblet and the Wine-cellars, and the three, having reached the King's table, make a reverence to His Majesty. The chief of the Goblet, standing near the King, holds a little trial cup of silver-gilt, into which a gentleman servant pours a small quantity of wine and water from the decanters. A portion of this the chief of the Goblet pours into a second trial cup which is presented by his assistant, who, in turn, hands it to the gentleman servant. The chief and the gentleman servant make the trial, and when the latter has handed his cup to the chief, that officer returns both cups to his assistant. When the trial has been made in this manner in the King's sight, the gentleman servant, making a reverence to the King, presents to His Majesty the cup of gold and the golden salver on which are the decanters. The King pours out the wine and water, and having drunk, replaces the cup upon the salver. The gentleman servant makes another reverence to the King, and returns the salver and all upon it to the chief of the Wine-cellars, who carried it to the side-board."
The ceremony of tasting the King's wine was most impressive, and it was regarded as a necessary and effective safeguard against poisonous attacks or deleterious effects on His Majesty's august health. The thought is suggested, however, that the test could have been effective only in case of immediate or quick-working poison. A slow and insidious drug—and there were experts in such concoctions in those days—would surely have passed the taster's test and affected the King in time. The test was but a mere formality, however, for Louis was the Most Adored Monarch. As one chronicler has observed, "He was not only majestic, he was amiable. Those that surrounded him, the members of his family, his ministers, his domestics, loved him." Poison played no part in his career. That subtle method of attack was reserved for Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, on both of whom it was attempted more than once.
The carver, having taken his place before the table of the King, presented and uncovered all the dishes, and when His Majesty told him to do so, or made him a sign, he removed them, handing them to the plate-changer or to his assistants. He changed the King's plate and napkin from time to time, and cut the meats when the King did not cut them himself.
On rare occasions, when the King was in residence at Versailles, his brother dined with him. But large, formal dinners were rare, and women were seldom at the King's table except on grand occasions.
Upon leaving the table, Saint-Simon tells us, "the King immediately entered his cabinet. That was the time for distinguished people to speak to him. He stopped at the door a moment to listen, then entered; very rarely did any one follow him, never without asking permission to do so; and for this few had the courage. . . . The King amused himself by feeding his dogs, and remained with them more or less time, then asked for his wardrobe, changed before the very few distinguished people it pleased the first gentleman of the Chamber to admit there, and immediately went out by the back stairs into the court of marble to get the air. . . . He went out for three objects: stag-hunting, once or more each week; shooting in his parks (and no man handled a gun with more grace or skill), once or twice each week; and walking in his gardens, and to see his workmen."
The King was fond of hunting and the chase held an important part in the service of the royal household. The conditions of the sport were determined with a formality in keeping with the other affairs of Versailles. There were two divisions of the chase—the hunting and the shooting. The first had to do with the chase of the stag, deer, wild boar, wolf, fox and the hare. The shooting had to do with smaller game. Here was also falconry, though in this Louis was not particularly interested. The chase was conducted by the Grand Huntsman of France, and his duties were enormous and varied. Under him the Captain General of the Toils kept the woods of Versailles well stocked with stag, deer, boars, and other animals caught in the forests of France. Some idea of the pomp and ceremony of the hunt may be obtained from the following account which was printed in the Mercure Galant in 1707:
"The toils were placed in the glades of Bombon. In the inclosure there were a large number of stags, wild boars, roebucks, and foxes. The court arrived there. The King, the Queen of England (the wife of James II, then in exile), her son, Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, and Madame (the Duchesse d'Orleans, wife of Monsieur) were in the same carriage, and all the princesses and the ladies followed in the carriages and caleches of the king. A very large number of noblemen on horseback accompanied the carriages. Within the inclosure there were platforms, arranged with seats covered with tapestry for the ladies, and many riding-horses for the nobles who wished to attack the game with swords or darts. They killed sixteen of the largest beasts, and some foxes. Mgr. le Duc de Berry slew several. This chase gave much pleasure on account of the brilliancy of the spectacle, and the large number of nobles who surrounded the toils. A multitude of people had climbed into the trees, and by their diversity they formed an admirable background."
Stag hunting was even more impressive in ceremonial details. After the chase the "quarry" was usually held by torchlight at Versailles, in one of the inner courts, and the ceremony of the quarry was as follows: "When His Majesty had made known his intentions on the subject, all the huntsmen with their horns and in hunting-dress came to the place where the quarry was to be made. On the arrival of the King, who was also in hunting-dress, the grand huntsman, who had received two wands of office, gave one to the King, and retained the other. The dogs were held under the whip about the carcass of the stag until the grand huntsman, having received the order from the King, gave the sign with his wand that they should be set at liberty. The horns sounded, and the huntsmen, who while the hounds were held under the whip had cried, 'Back, dogs! Back!' shouted now, 'Hallali, valets! Hallali!' When the quarry had been made, that is to say, when the flesh had been torn from the bones, a valet took the forhu (the belly of the stag, washed and placed on the end of a forked stick), and called the dogs, crying, 'Tayaut, tayaut!' and threw the forhu into the midst of the pack, where it was devoured at once. At this instant the fanfares redoubled, and finished by sounding the retreat. The King returned the wand to the grand huntsman, who at the head of all the huntsmen followed His Majesty."
In his promenades at Versailles and Trianon any courtiers that chose to do so were permitted to follow the King. On his return from out-door recreation His Majesty, after again changing his costume, remained in his cabinet resting or working. Frequently he passed some time in the apartments of Madame de Maintenon.
At ten o'clock the captain of the guard announced supper in the chamber between the Hall of the King's Guards and the antechamber called "Bull's Eye." This meal was always on a pretentious scale, and was attended at table by the royal children and numerous courtiers and ladies. When the last course had been served the King retired to his bedchamber and there for a few moments received all his Court, before passing into his Cabinet, where he spent something less than an hour in the company of his immediate household, his brother seated in an arm-chair, the princesses upon stools, and the Dauphin and all the other princes standing.
When the King had bid the company goodnight he entered his sleeping-room, where were already the courtiers privileged to attend the ceremony of the coucher, or going-to-bed. At the grand coucher the King, being formally divested of his hat, gloves, cane and sword, knelt by the balustrade about his bed, while an almoner murmured a prayer as he held a lighted candle above the royal head. When the King had risen from his knees he gave to the first valet de chambre his watch and the holy relics he was accustomed to wear, and proceeded through the assemblage to his chair. This was the moment when, with regal mien, the Sun King bestowed the candle upon whomever he wished to honor—a ceremony brief, trifling, but significant of the Monarch of Monarchs in its gracious portent.
To the Master of the Wardrobe fell the task of removing the King's coat and vest; the diamond buckles of the right and left garters were unfastened respectively by the first valet de chambre and the first valet of the wardrobe, and the valets of the Chamber withdrew with the kingly shoes and breeches while the pages of the Chamber presented slippers and dressing-gown. The latter was held as a screen while the shirt was removed, and the night-dress was accepted from the hands of a royal prince, or the Grand Chamberlain.
Having put on the dressing-gown, the King, with an inclination of the head, dismissed the courtiers, to whom the ushers cried, "Gentlemen, pass on!"
All those that were entitled to remain for the petit coucher—princes, clergymen, officers, chosen intimates—then disposed themselves about the bedchamber while the King submitted to the hands of his coiffeur and received from the Grand Master of the Wardrobe the night-cap and handkerchiefs. After bathing his face and hands in a silver basin held by a royal prince or grand master, the petit coucher was at an end. The bathing apartments of Versailles were numerous and luxuriously appointed, but, though the most trivial details in the daily life of His Majesty were attended with imposing circumstance, there is no record of a Ceremony of the King's Bath, nor do we know of any noble order at the Grand Monarch's court that held the title of Knights of the Bath.
When the assemblage that witnessed the petit coucher in the royal apartment had dwindled one by one, according to precedent, the Master of Versailles was, at last, free to do as he chose,—to play with his dogs in an adjoining cabinet, or take his ease in pleasing solitude. Then, in the familiar words of Samuel Pepys' immortal diary, "Home, and to bed." Outside the gilded balustrade the first valet de chambre slept on a folding cot. "Beyond that balustrade, by the faint candle-light, there loomed among the shadows a white-plumed canopy and crimson curtains. The Grand Monarch slept."
GOLDEN DAYS AND RED LETTER NIGHTS
The Gayety and Fashion of Versailles Life. The Prodigal Frivolities and Diversions of the Court.
The ceremonious routine of the days at Versailles was enlivened at certain times of the year by festivities of astounding brilliance, and, on occasion, by gorgeous receptions offered to visiting rulers and ambassadors, It has already been related that the arrival of Louis XIV and his family at Versailles in the fall of 1663 was celebrated by a fete at which a troupe headed by Moliere was heard in a piece by the great dramatist called Impromptu de Versailles, In the month of May, 1664, Louis commanded a performance of "Pleasures of the Enchanted Isle," in which his favorite actor and playwright furnished the comedy, Lully the music and the ballets, and an Italian mechanician the decorations and illuminations. On the first day there was tilting at the ring, in which pastime Louis XIV played a part, wearing a diamond-embroidered costume. The next day, on an outdoor stage, Moliere and his company played the "Princesse d'Elide." There followed ballets, races, tourneys and a lottery, "in which the prizes were pieces of furniture, silverware and precious stones."
In September, 1665, a hunt was organized in the woods of Versailles, at which the royal ladies wore Amazonian habits. A mid-winter day in the year 1667 was chosen for a tournament "that over-passed the limits of magnificence." The Queen herself led a cortege of Court beauties on a white horse that was set off by brocaded and gem-sewn trappings. The Gazette of 1667 described the appearance of the youthful Master of Versailles at this tournament, he being "not less easily recognized by the lofty mien peculiar to him than by his rich Hungarian habit covered with gold and precious stones, his helmet with waving plumes, his horse that was arrayed in magnificent accouterments and a jeweled saddle-cloth."
Again in the summers of 1668 and 1672 Moliere and Lully entertained the guests at the King's chateau, while in the gardens there were statues, vases and chandeliers so lighted as to give the impression that they glowed with interior names.
In the summer of 1674, Moliere "was no longer alive to arrange dramatic performances among the green and flowery coppices of Versailles. But there was no lack of entertainment at the splendid fetes that marked that year. We have the recital of Felebien, a fastidious chronicler of Court doings, referring to this period of merry-making, which lasted during most of the summer and fall.
"The King," says Felebien, "ordained as soon as he arrived at Versailles that festivities be arranged at once, and that, at intervals, new diversions should be prepared for the pleasure of the Court. The things most noticeable at such times as these were the promptitude, minute pains and silent ease with which the King's orders were invariably executed. Like a miracle—all in a moment—theaters rose, wooded places were made gay with fountains, collations were spread, and a thousand other things were accomplished that one would have supposed would require a long time and a vast bustle of workers."
The "Grand Fetes" occupied six days of the months of July and August. The celebrations of the fourth of July began with a feast laid on the verdant site later usurped by the basin called the Baths of Apollo. Here the beauty of nature was enhanced by an infinity of ornate vases filled with garlands of flowers. Fruits of every clime were served on platters of porcelain, in silver baskets and in bowls of priceless glass. In the evening the Court attended a production of "Alceste"—an opera by Quinault and Lully, executed by artists from the Royal Academy of Music. The stage was set in the Marble Court. The windows facing the court were ablaze with two rows of candles. The walls of the chateau were screened with orange trees, festooned with flowers, illumined by candelabra made of silver and crystal. The marble fountain in the center of the court was surrounded by tall candlesticks and blossoming urns. The spraying waters escaped through vases of flowers, that their falling should not interrupt the voices of those on the stage. Artificial waters, silver-sconced tapers, bowers of fragrant shrubs united to create the richest of settings for this outdoor theater.
It was the King's wish that the grounds of the little "porcelain house" at Trianon be chosen as the scene of the second fete, which took place a week later. In an open-air enclosure, decorated by "a prodigious quantity of flowers," the guests listened to the "Eglogue de Versailles," composed for the occasion by Lully, leader of the Petits-Violons, Louis' favorite Court orchestra. Afterwards all the nobles and their fair companions returned to sup at Versailles in a wood where the Basin of the Obelisk now is.
Seven days later, at the third fete of the series, the King gave a banquet to ladies in the pavilion at the Menagerie. The guests were conveyed in superbly decorated gondolas down the Grand Canal. In a large boat were violinists and hautboy-players that made sweet music. Finally, in a theater arranged this time before the Grotto, all the ladies were regaled with a performance of "La Malade Imaginaire," the last of Moliere's comedies.
For the fourth festal day, the twenty-eighth of July, the King commanded a fete of surpassing beauty. The feast was laid in the center of the Theatre-d'Eau. The steps forming the amphitheater served as tables for the arrangement of the viands. Orange trees heavy with blossoms and golden fruit, apple trees, apricot trees, trees laden with peaches, and tall oleanders—all set out in ornamental tubs; three hundred vessels of fine porcelain filled with fruit; one hundred and twenty baskets of dried preserves; four hundred crystal cups containing ices, an uncounted number of carafes sparkling with rare liqueurs—all created a picture of colorful luxury, which, we are assured, struck those that looked upon it as "most agreeable." Threading their musical murmurings through all the laughter and badinage, the tossing jets of the pyramidal fountains fell away to pools and green-bordered streams.
Lully's opera, "Cadmus et Hermione" Was sung in a theater arranged at the end of the Allee of the Dragon. At its close every one made a tour of the park in open vehicles, lighted by torches carried by lackeys, and all assisted at an exhibition of fire-works on the canal. The evening ended with a supper in the Marble Court. Here an illuminated column was placed on an immense pedestal, while around it was disposed a table with seats for fifty persons.
The fifth gala day was marked by the presentation to the King of one hundred and seven flags and standards that Conde, the illustrious general, had taken at the battle of Senef. In the evening the company toured the park of Versailles, occupying thirty six-horse carriages. After a supper served in a forest retreat the invited ones witnessed a performance of "Iphigenie," a new tragedy by Racine, which was most admirably played by the royal troupe, and much applauded by the Court. There followed a grand illumination of the great fountain at the head of the canal—a display whose beauty and ingenuity "surprised every one"—even the luxury-surfeited guests of Versailles. Besides an encircling balustrade six feet in height and ornamented with fleurs de lys and the arms of the King (all of which glowed with a golden light most lovely to look upon), there were high pedestals that appeared to be of transparent marble, with ornaments representing Apollo and the Sun, whose device Louis, instigator of all the splendor of Versailles, had adopted as his own insignia. These decorations were made after designs by Lebrun.