Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete

Author: Various

Chapter II.

The Venetian Drummer.—The Little Olivier.—Adriani’s Love.— His Ingratitude.—His Punishment.—His Vengeance.— Complaint on This Account.

At the great slaughter of Candia, M. de Vivonne had the pleasure of saving a young Venetian drummer whom he noticed all covered with blood, and senseless, amongst the dead and dying, with whom the field was covered far and wide. He had his wounds dressed and cared for by the surgeons of the French navy, with the intention of giving him me, either as a valet de chambre or a page, so handsome and agreeable this young Italian was. Adriani was his name. He presented him to me after the return of the expedition to France, and I was sensible of this amiable attention of my brother, for truly the peer of this young drummer did not exist.

Adrien was admirable to see in my livery, and when my carriage went out, he attracted alone all the public attention. His figure was still not all that it might be; it developed suddenly, and then one was not wrong in comparing him with a perfect model for the Academy. He took small time in losing the manners which he had brought with him from his original calling. I discovered the best ’ton’ in him; he would have been far better seated in the interior than outside my equipage. Unfortunately, this young impertinent gave himself airs of finding my person agreeable, and of cherishing a passion for me; my first valet de chambre told me of it at once. I gave him to the King, who had sometimes noticed him in passing.

Adrien was inconsolable at first at this change, for which he was not prepared, but his vanity soon came uppermost; he understood that it was an advancement, and took himself for a great personage, since he had the honour of approaching and serving the King.

The little Olivier—the first assistant in the shop of Madame Camille, my dressmaker—saw Adrien, inspired him with love, and herself with much, and they had to be married. I was good-natured enough to be interested in this union, and as I had never any fault to find with the intelligent services and attentions of the little modiste, I gave her two hundred louis, that she might establish herself well and without any waiting.

She had a daughter whom she was anxious to call Athenais. I thought this request excessive; I granted my name of Francoise only.

The young couple would have succeeded amply with their business, since my confidence and favour were sufficient to give them vogue; but I was not slow in learning that cruel discord had already penetrated to their household, and that Adrien, in spite of his adopted country, had remained at heart Italian. Jealous without motive, and almost without love, he tormented with his suspicions, his reproaches, and his harshness, an attentive and industrious young wife, who loved him with intense love, and was unable to succeed in persuading him of it. From her condition, a modiste cannot dispense with being amiable, gracious, engaging. The little Olivier, as pretty as one can be, easily secured the homage of the cavaliers. For all thanks she smiled at the gentlemen, as a well brought up woman should do. Adrien disapproved these manners,—too French, in his opinion. One day he dared to say to his wife, and that before witnesses: "Because you have belonged to Madame de Montespan, do you think you have the same rights that she has?" And with that he administered a blow to her.

This indecency was reported to me. I did not take long in discovering what it was right to do with Adrien. I had him sent to Clagny, where I happened to be at the time.

"Monsieur the Venetian drummer," I said to him, with the hauteur which it was necessary to oppose to his audacity, "Monsieur le Marechal de Vivonne, who is always too good, saved your life without knowing you. I gave you to the King, imagining that I knew you. Now I am undeceived, and I know, without the least possibility of doubt, that beneath the appearance of a good heart you hide the ungrateful and insolent rogue. The King needs persons more discreet, less violent, and more polite. Madame de Montespan gave you up to the King; Madame de Montespan has taken you back this morning to her service. You depend for the future on nobody but Madame de Montespan, and it is her alone that you are bound to obey. Your service in her house has commenced this morning; it will finish this evening, and, before midnight, you will leave her for good and all. I have known on all occasions how to pardon slight offences; there are some that a person of my rank could not excuse; yours is of that number. Go; make no answer! Obey, ingrate! Disappear, I command you!"

At these words he tried to throw himself at my feet. "Go, wretched fellow!" I cried to him; and, at my voice, my lackeys ran up and drove him from the room and from the chateau.

Almost always these bad-natured folks have cowardly souls. Adrien, his head in a whirl, presented himself to my Suisse at Versailles, who, finding his look somewhat sinister, refused to receive him. He retired to my hotel in Paris, where the Suisse, being less of a physiognomist, delivered him the key of his old room, and was willing to allow him to pass the night there.

Adrien, thinking of naught but how to harm me and give me a memorable proof of his vengeance, ran and set fire to my two storehouses, and, to put a crown on his rancour, went and hanged himself in an attic.

About two o’clock in the morning, a sick-nurse, having perceived the flames, gave loud cries and succeeded in making herself heard. Public help arrived; the fire was mastered. My Suisse sought everywhere for the Italian, whom he thought to be in danger; he stumbled against his corpse. What a scene! What an affliction! The commissary having had his room opened, on a small bureau a letter was found which he had been at the pains of writing, and in which he accused me of his despair and death.

The people of Paris have been at all times extravagance and credulity itself. They looked upon this young villain as a martyr, and at once dedicated an elegy to him, in which I was compared with Medea, Circe, and Fredegonde.

It is precisely on account of this elegy that I have cared to set down this cruel anecdote. My readers, to whom I have just narrated the facts with entire frankness, can see well that, instead of having merited reproaches, I should only have received praise for my restraint and moderation.

It is, assuredly, most painful to have to suffer the abuse of those for whom we have never done aught; but the outrages of those whom we have succoured, maintained, and favoured are insupportable injuries.


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Chicago: Various, "Chapter II.," Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853 and trans. Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809 in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1909), Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2023,

MLA: Various. "Chapter II." Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, edited by Braybrooke, Richard Griffin, Baron, 1783-1853, and translated by Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809, in Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Vol. 36, New York, Doubleday, Page, 1909, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2023.

Harvard: Various, 'Chapter II.' in Court Memoirs of France Series— Complete, ed. and trans. . cited in 1909, Court Memoirs of France Series—Complete, Doubleday, Page, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2023, from